There are a couple hundred men's programs, and only 75 get ranked. The #76 DI program will whip any DIII program, and so will the #100 DI program. However, the #180 DI program, which offers no scholarship money and signs 1-star and 2-star recruits, will certainly not beat Emory, Kenyon, etc.
I don't know about every past discussion, but there have certainly been discussions in which junior players were advised that going to the #180 DI program, with no scholarship money available, is some kind of ego trip just so the player (and sometimes his parents) can say that he played DI tennis. The same player will turn up his nose at a mere DIII program, because it is not basking in the glory of being DI. I think those discussions were pretty fair.