It's rare for someone without a degree to get the kinds of jobs that exposes them to the kinds of engineering challenges that makes for "10 years experience" as opposed to "1 year experience 10 times over". I'm not saying it doesn't happen -- just that in my experience, it's rare.
Also, having a college degree shows a certain minimum ability to start something and finish it. The more challenging that degree program was, the more important that factor is. A 'degree' from DeVry or Phoenix doesn't count (I'd actually talk to the guy without a degree first...).