Don't let them see you flinch, Big 12. Nod your head and tip your 10-gallon hat to the College Football Playoff selection committee. Let them have their office and their committee meetings in the same state where four of your institutions are located. Make them feel right at home.
Sure, they dinged your conference again in the initial rankings. No Big 12 teams in the top five. Two one-loss teams -- Alabama and Notre Dame -- ahead of your top two contenders, No. 6 Baylor and No. 8 TCU. They even had the gall to put Oklahoma State as the lowest-rated undefeated Power 5 team, one slot behind Group of 5 member Memphis and just three spots ahead of two-loss Michigan. Committee chairman Jeff Long even dinged one of your non-playoff contenders, Texas Tech, saying of Oklahoma State's record 70-point output last week in Lubbock: "A lot of other teams have scored on Texas Tech. That wasn't surprising."
And the committee made all these decisions at a hotel on Texas soil! For shame!
You're getting angry now. Keep your cool. Remember, it's November. Look at your schedule, the most back-loaded of any Power 5 conference. It begins this week in Stillwater as TCU and Oklahoma State play for the right to remain perfect. The following week, surging Oklahoma storms into Waco to face Baylor. The state of Oklahoma then becomes the center of the college football universe on Nov. 21, as TCU visits Oklahoma and Baylor travels to Oklahoma State. You could own Thanksgiving weekend as well, with TCU hosting Baylor in a matchup dripping with anticipation, followed by the Bedlam game in Stillwater.
If your blood is still boiling, look at last year's rankings. Eventual national champion Ohio State debuted at No. 16 in the committee's first Top 25. The Big Ten's highest-ranked team was No. 8 Michigan State, and the league still got a team into the final field.
Patience is hard, but is a virtue that will pay off in the long run. You watched the inaugural playoff from the outside after the committee pushed you out in its final vote. You sat there as everyone mocked your "One True Champion" mantra, while your commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, handed out two trophies on the same day. You waited for this season and a chance to join in the party. The November schedule should give you every opportunity to impress the committee.
Breathe, Big 12. It should all work out in the end.
But there is a lesson in the committee's continued snubs: your schedule has to improve. The insular approach that winning one's league without any true external challenges isn't going to fly in the playoff era. Let your teams distinguish themselves with challenging nonconference games, not by being a league where SMU, Lamar and Rice, or Central Michigan, Central Arkansas and Texas San Antonio, are deemed adequate preparation for the conference grind.
Oklahoma is the one Big 12 team that came out of Tuesday night without a legitimate gripe. The Sooners are No. 15, one spot below their AP Poll ranking and two spots below their coaches' poll ranking. The reason: a nonconference schedule that includes a game at Tennessee. Oklahoma always has done it this way, facing a notable nonconference foe before the Big 12 grind. Others must follow or continue to pay the playoff price.
But that's a task for the future. It's time to forget Tuesday's rankings and focus. This is your month, your time to shine, your chance to make those committee members pay attention.
November is here, and not a moment too soon.