You want to believe David Boren. You want to believe him as he painstakingly delivers the news as well as he possibly can Monday at Schusterman Center.
If you grew up with the Big Eight and went along with the formation of the Big 12, and have come to understand and appreciate the timeless aspect of college sports and its conferences — from the Big 10 to the SEC to the ACC and the Pac-10 — you want to believe the Oklahoma president when he refrains from throwing the Big 12 under the bus.
"Let me just say, we've had informal conversations with the Pac-12 and those have been very warm and very constructive," he said. "We've also had very constructive conversations with president Brady Deaton of Missouri, the chairman of the Big 12 Conference this year. Those conversations have been very, very constructive."
You want to believe him because, right there, in that moment, it all sounds so reasonable. Just maybe, the way most of us look at college sports and have for a long, long time, it all is still possible.
"I would say we're having two sets of constructive conversations at this time," Boren said.
Like they're equal.
Then you take a look at everything else and you have to realize something:
It's not possible.
Texas began to throw its weight around and Nebraska didn't like it. So Nebraska left for the Big 10 last year. At the same time, Colorado left for the Pac-10. People laughed at Colorado. Now the Buffs look like psychics.
Then Texas got its network and Texas A&M, even more tired of the Longhorns than Nebraska, decided it wanted to take its ball and go a very long way from home — to the SEC. Ever since, everybody has been waiting on Oklahoma
Monday in Tulsa, Boren received the same authority A&M gave its president, R. Bowen Loftin, weeks ago to pursue other conference affiliation. After getting it, about the first thing Boren sought to get across was he's no R. Bowen Loftin.
"Everyone was aware of the fact they were giving direction and authority to the president to take action to move to the SEC," Boren said. "That's not the situation here."
So you want to believe him.
Or believe in one of the two options he mentioned, the one that keeps things making sense, that doesn't put the Pac-12 in three different time zones, doesn't jettison Big 12 castoffs to the Eastern Seaboard, doesn't usher in a new world of college sports RIGHT NOW.
But you can't.
You can't because the same day Boren received his authority, his Texas counterpart Bill Powers, received much the same authority from his regents.
And the SEC is working on a 13-team schedule, anticipating A&M's arrival, and Syracuse and Pitt left the Big East for the ACC over the weekend, because the ACC can see what's happening and is worried about its own future. And every day, somebody is saying something new or floating a new trial balloon just to prove a point or trying, some way, any way, to get ahead of the carnage that began with Nebraska, picked up speed with the Longhorn Network and, like a snowball, continues to roll down an endless hill.
You want to believe college sports can quit blowing up and the Sooners can stay put, but then you listen to all Boren said Monday.
"We do not want to continue to have these kinds of situations where our membership in a conference is undecided and has to be revisited year after year and the stability of the conference has to be revisited every year," he said.
He also said, over and over, Oklahoma wants to be an equal partner. And that keeping a conference together through threat of lawsuit doesn't say much for the continuity of a conference.
"That status quo is certainly not stable," he said.
You want to believe the possibility, but he made it so hard with all of the things he had to say.
Where is their stability?
How can everybody get along?
Where might equality begin?
Looks like it might begin in the Pac-12.
Looks like it must.