I never said it was a magical formula. If has nothing to do with how they got where they are, it's just a fact of where they are.
If we're going to judge teams by the outcomes they create, no reasonable person would compare NDSU to anyone else in the subdivision because their outcomes are an outlier. When one describes any outlier in statistics, it means that (to quote Wolfram Alpha) an observation that lies outside the overall pattern of distribution, meaning an outlier data point doesn't by definition fit the model.
So, for the little dot that's no where near the trend line in the above picture, there is no value judgment or special explanation or magic formula necessary for us to say that it's an outlier. It's an outlier because it's different.
Now, in the case of NDSU and being a winning team at the FCS level, the graph looks more like this:
We can't really make any judgment or detect accurate patterns about the big mass of humanity and "what is success" or a heavy weight at the FCS level if we fixate on the outlier because the outlier is one data point whereas the trend line/statistical relationship by definition has to fit all of the data. Put another way: because NDSU has monopolized the FCS championship on merit, the threshold of "heavyweight" outside of NDSU has fallen dramatically.
Whenever anyone tries to explain how NDSU is successful, some of y'all think we're trying to explain away NDSU's success. That's a hard interpretation to come by without some insecurity. NDSU's championships are the result of hard work, maybe a touch of luck here and there (but again, you don't win *that much* because of luck), and a virtuous cycle that I don't think anyone can pin down all the factors.
Good for NDSU, their fans, and their program! However, as I said, the side effect of this reality is the threshold of what it means to be a heavyweight kind of falls if you want to talk about trends outside of NDSU. I still think there's only 5 or so teams that can justifiably be called heavyweights, because they have like half of the semifinal appearances in the last decade: SHSU, NDSU, EWU, JMU, and SDSU.