It is critical to put all the sports-news insanity from the past 24-48 hours -- USC sanctions, Big 12 implosion, Strasburg mania -- into some perspective.
Combined, they are all a pimple on the tusch of the World Cup.
Here is some handy shorthand: Millions care about the USC penalties or for which conference Texas A&M ends up playing football. Billions care about the World Cup.
I do not claim to be a soccer expert -- at all. But, as I profess in today's SN column, I love the World Cup. I watch as many games as possible -- middle of the day, middle of the night, whatever. And I almost always watch the games on Univision (I will give ESPN another chance, because they upgraded their announcers).
I love the nationalism. I love the goal celebrations. I love the feeling of being connected not just to some parochial fan base, but to the world.
I don't get the World Cup haters. There is too much to enjoy -- and too much joy -- to worry about not understanding the game.
Especially when things feel so unsettled in the sports world, stateside.
Actually, that's not entirely true: Everyone but USC fans cheered the sanctions dropped down yesterday, which I immediately dubbed "Death Penalty 2.0." It didn't quite kill USC football, but it put a huge hurt on it, entirely having to do with the loss of 30 scholarships.
That is an absolute piledriver -- at least to the extent that USC wants to be a national-title contender. It is virtually impossible to do that without significant depth, which USC will no longer have. Oh, and layer in the penalty-free transfers for USC juniors and seniors, along with what has to be changed minds for many incoming freshmen. It is brutal. And it is hard not to feel -- wait for it...
Meanwhile, I recognize that the college football realignment is entirely unsettling for many fans, particularly those in Big 12 country. But it is -- as it always has been -- entirely about money. And so we'll get what we get and not get upset, as my kids' preschool teachers say.
Colorado to the Pac-10? Sure!
Nebraska to the Big Ten? Sure!
Where things get really interesting is this situation involving Texas A&M, which may or may not be considering a jump to the SEC, leaving the rest of the Big 12 powers to go to the Pac-10.
Personally, I'm in the Clay Travis camp that it is in the best interests of both the SEC and Texas A&M to join up. It gives the SEC a Texas foothold, and it gives A&M a competitive differentiator from Texas.
Now, there is always the chance that Texas joins Texas A&M in the SEC -- that would be monstrous, and I have heard that the SEC would even move Alabama and Auburn to the SEC East to accommodate the newbies. Fine, although at that point, I'm not sure why the SEC would bother staying in the BCS, when they could simply have an 8-team playoff of their own, with the SEC champ being crowned the de facto national champ.
That doesn't even bring in Tom Izzo STILL considering the Cavs, which has to be the biggest "WTF?!" of the year in sports.
There is tons more in today's column, including my complete World Cup picks. Updates throughout the weekend, but for the most part, I am camped out watching soccer, especially tomorrow for US-England, which I have going down as a tie (which would be a W for the Yanks).