Boy, some of these feel loaded though I understand the need to come off of any fence. Thus, I'll see what spouts off the top of my head here.
1. What is more important to you: giving many teams a shot at the post-season (as in a six team division) or having a more entertaining race between many opponents (as in an 11 or 12 team-divisionless confernce)? In other words: how important is the regular season in relationship to the post-season?
I'm confused by your wording here, but it may be the lack of sleep in me. I think the regular season for football carries tremendous weight right now, and that needs to remain intact. So if the question is conf. title game: pro or con?, I'm leaning slightly towards the title game. Done right it adds flair and pomp to the game, similar to the big bowls. A divisionless conference doesn't guarantee a more entertaining race. It is more fair, though, that I recognize.
2. In a tournament, should conference schools that did not win their conferences be eligible, or should only the conference champ be so? Is it a good idea to have a national champion not win its own conference (as in a wild card winning the WS or SB)
Definitely no to the wild card scenario. As I've stated before, it sucks to be the better team all season long and then blow it in the conference championship. Price you pay. If that's how your conference defines it's champion, have at it. Perhaps it is the variety of options being used today that adds more character to the game. The PAC 10's clear champ vs. a dubious Big 12 champ, so to speak.
3. how important is a round-robin schedule? would an 11-team round robin schedule for a 12 team conference (a feasible 11 + 2 = 13 schedule) be preferable to the current divisional set up with unbalanced schedules? If 11 conf games are, in fact, reasonable, should we be shooting at that number? or is an 8 team conference with 7 round robin games and 5 non-conf (with opponents from across the country) the best way to go?
Fairly important. The appeal of a conference championship demands the absence of a round-robin schedule. Would I be satisfied as a fan in giving up the conf. title game in return for 13 game regular seasons? Maybe. I do think that in lieu of a conf. title game round robin should be mandatory (Hello, Big 10).
4. should conference champions be compared to each other in seeding for a potential national championship, or is this unfair...
If you're having a national championship playoff, then there should either be a) seeding based on strength (polls, past perfromance, whatever.) or b) predetermined match-ups (PAC 10-Big 10, eastern conference A vs. eastern conference B, etc.)
5. what is the optimum size for a conference and what should it structure (division, no divisons) be: 8, 10, 12, 16? and why? Aside from lack of common opponents, would a 16 school league fail to provide its members with "identity"?
Again, depends on the situation as a whole. I don't consider a playoff a top priority, erego I don't feel a need for uniformity among conference shapes and sizes. I do think that when considering other sports, 12 is the fine line between too big and too small. 16 may work out financially or logistically, but not only is the regionalism potentially sacrificed, there is, IMO, more likely to be a stronger caste structure then is experienced within the 12 team set up. If there were a playoff, I would consider 9 or 11 the optimum size for a conference.
6. How many teams: 2, 4, 8, or 16 belong in a national championship tournament (if we were to have one) and what is the goal of that championship?
If this is done, the goal would be to crown the champion among champions. 8 conference champions, seeded according to the past performance of their conferences. If a conference is not represented, then they need to upgrade in ooc success to qualify.
7. Should college football require a conf set-up for any possible play-off or would it be fair to let schools like ND operate in a way different from the rest?
In the absence of bowls and polls, it would be much more difficult to discern how an independent should qualify. Assuming fairness, IMO, then participants in a national playoff must have accomplished something. A conference title is more clear than going 10-2 against solid, albeit non-conference opponents. Conference games demand intensity, whereas ooc games can sometimes be used to prep for the conference season.
8. Is it important for conferences to have a strong geographic foot-print or should they spread into other markets?
Your comments about the TV money are crucial. I'm a huge proponent of regionalism or other shared affiliation. But this is not as important for a playoff concern but for an overall revenue and appeal standpoint.
9. what elements of structure make things important to you in... keeping your team competitive and alive through as much of the season as possible?
...providing interesting races and true championships, even if it means your team is out of the picture earlier than you want it to be.
Is this a "Which is more important" question? I hope my teams play competitively every game, even if we've thrown the post-season away in September. In this I look for the squad to play full-out, learn from their mistakes and lose because the other team was better. As far as the interesting races goes I also hope to see that every year, with or without my Jackets in the mix.
I may add to these later, but wanted to respond on first notice. It'll be interesting to see where everyone stands.