Late July - time for the annual "my schedule is bigger than yours" arguments, fed by filler material from "expert" commentators at the publications with little hard news during the summer.
Most of these are somewhat subjective analyses that take into account only one or two criteria for analyzing a schedule. Simple averages are unsatisfactory, because teams that play vastly different schedules can have the same average. The median opponents' rank does a little better, but teams with a median of 50 might have 5 top-25 teams and #50, or no top-40 teams and six in the 41-50 range.
To account for the distribution of opponents across the top half and bottom half of the field, back in 2005 I came up with something I called a "weighted median." Basically it adjusts the ordinary median by how "top heavy" or "bottom heavy" a schedule is.
The next question is what to use for rankings before any teams have played any games. Until more pre-season rankings are available, the best thing I have to go on is the final 2006 Computer Consensus that Ken Massey publishes. This is the combination of 102 different computer rankings as they were following the bowl championship series.
Here are the top and bottom 25 schedules according to the 2006 rankings and the weighted median ordering. Note that only one team has no opponents outside the top half of the 119 team field. (Trnk is the team's own ranking according to the 2006 computers.)
For all the teams, see the preliminary summary for all 119 Division 1 teams.
The weighted median of opponents' ranks is about as far as I'm willing to go with a purely programmatic analysis. One could argue that when teams play should matter - playing a top ten team in an opening game is probably a tougher challenge than playing later in the year. And it matters whether the game is at home or on the road. If one were calculating the degree of difficulty of actual schedules at the end of the season there might be a way to adjust for those, but in the case of judging future schedules so many assumptions are required that the results wind up being subjective after all.
Nonetheless, it is interesting to view the lists of opponents' rankings by week and game location. If nothing else the report provides some factual basis for the inevitable arguments.