- KC Joyner, NFL Insider
In his landmark book "The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football", Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman recalled a time when he was speaking to a group of elite college players going into their senior season. He tried to impress upon them that this was the most important wage-earning year of each of their lives because it would establish their draft status.
Dr. Z said this because he knew NFL salaries are based in large part on how much money the player makes at the beginning of his career. That number's impact all but assures that a low draft slot will suppress a player's earning potential for the entirety of his pro football employment.
The unfairness of that system is obvious, and it isn't the only place in the football world where a starting point can unfairly determine the future. College football has just such a disparity in the BCS and poll rankings this season when you consider the cases of the Oklahoma Sooners and Auburn Tigers.
The Sooners are ahead of the Tigers in the BCS, AP, USA Today and ESPN.com Power Rankings polls in large part because they started the season rated much higher. While OU's 6-0 mark is certainly impressive enough to warrant a very high ranking, a closer look at a number of variables shows multiple reasons, both statistical and philosophical, why Auburn should be the lead dog between these two teams.
The only reason the Auburn Tigers trail the Oklahoma Sooners in the polls is because voters thought they'd be behind Oklahoma -- when the season started. The problem is, both the stats and the wins say Auburn is currently better.