Like Jk it appears you are equating results with "massively unfair playing surface". Maybe it's unfair that Mount Union is the only school to have Larry Kehres. To me, that is a huge reason for Mount's success. I am very lost as to what that has to do with the playing field being "massively unfair".
We do judge outcomes usually by the results. The fact of the matter is, with approximately 240 teams, and a 7 year string of only 2 teams playing in the finals and a similarly small pool of teams able to reach the semi-finals, D3 has a pathetic level diversity at the top level as a percentage of participants. That is a non-disputable fact. Now you can claim this is a good thing, or a bad thing, which is what the thread is all about. Personally, I believe it is bad. If I was a UMU or UWW fan, I'm sure I'd appreciate it quite a bit more and I notice the UWW people basically get up in arms about this.
My basis for saying D3 is not a level playing field is in the factual statistics. The more level the playing field, the more likely you are to have a larger base of teams compete for championships. We know this through analysis of D1 football, the NFL, MLS... the least level playing fields, MLB, NBA, european soccer leagues, tend to have long-term dominant teams. We also know that there are levelers applied that assist matters, usually financial, that ameliorate un-level fields. For professional sports it tends to be salary caps and for D1 it tends to be scholarships. These don't work perfectly, but they do help. If you need help with the concept, check out Moneyball or Soccernomics which don't directly touch on D3 issues, but do a great job of explaining the factors that create and ameliorate unlevel playing fields in professional sports.
Now for some fun. FCS football, 12 of the last 15 championships by different teams, most is 6 by Ga Southern since 1978. d2 football, 10 of 15 different, 5 is most since 1973. d3 football, 5 of 15 different, 10 is most since 1973. Now adjust for the number of schools, FCS 126, D2 146, d3, 239. So FCS, 1 champion per 10.5 teams in the last 15 years, 1 repeat by the top dynasty every 5.5 years. D2, 1 championship per 15 schools, 1 repeat by the top dynasty every 7.5 years. D3, 1 championship per 48 schools, 1 repeat by the top dynasty every 3.8 years. UGGH, D3 has no variety in football compared to the other playoff divisions.
Lets look somewhere else. D1 soccer, 11 champions in the last 15 years, most is 10 since 1959. D2 Soccer, 12 champions in the last 15 years, most is 6 since 1972. D3 soccer, 9 in the last 15 years, most is 8 since 1974. I'm not going to run the numbers again because I can't find an easy source for the number of participants, however, there are more D3 teams than D2, but more D1 than D2 (since D1 is not split in Soccer into stupid FBS and FCS). Just looking at the data will tell you that wins per team and repeats will be much higher in D3 than any other division.
Care to go for 3? Someone else can do it. I didn't cherry pick soccer, it's just the first widely played sport that I decided to go with. Someone else can do baseball or basketball, but I bet you find D3 has dynasties and the lowest variability of any division across widely participated sports.
The farther you get from a leveler, the more un-level your playing field. In D3 there is NO leveler at all. That gives some teams advantages that other teams cannot match. Now, I have said this in many, many posts at various times. Having an advantage, and taking advantage of it, are two different things. UWW and UMU have both taken excellent advantage of their attributes to become dominant. It was done within the rules of D3 and shouldn't be punished but celebrated.
However, having them this dominant is a detriment to D3 as a whole in my opinion. The main reason for that is because D3 football has 1 showcase event, the Stagg Bowl. And it barely qualifies the way ESPN treats it. However, it doesn't help D3's image as a whole when every couple minutes in the broadcast we hear about how this is the 7th game between two teams, how they rolled through the playoffs, have 100 game regular-season winning streaks... it makes the rest of D3 seem like a joke. And that's not good for D3.
You want a bigger pool of contenders. And if you can't understand why having only 2 contenders out of 240 teams, or possibly 6 if you want to stretch the definition, is a bad thing, I really can't help you. The fact is, sports are more entertaining to more people, and more attractive to players, when more people have the option to play for, or root for, a winner. That doesn't happen much in D3, and that's bad.
So what do we do about it? Not much. To be honest, D3 is an unlevel surface. Massive state schools compete with small liberal arts schools. Incredible academic standards compete against revolving doors. Huge endowments versus underfunded midgets. Schools with a greater commitment to sports compete against schools with only the commitment required to fill the seats. The variety of schools across D3 is massive and the lack of requirements leads to a massive imbalance. That is part and parcel of being a member of D3.
frank uible is right. Most schools need to content themselves with winning a conference championship because the conference is really there peers. Once you leave your peer group, D3 football becomes a very Wild West and there are 2 truly lethal gunslingers and maybe 4 more that will beat you 90% of the time. That may be fine with you, but for 233 or so other schools, you can only hope to avoid those 6 as long as possible. Or just don't worry about it when you get blown away by a whole different caliber.