Interesting discussion..... Got a sitemail, and I'd be happy to give some general ramblings--some about GUESS, others, well, free-association??
First, the #104 recruiting class for MMA comes with an asterisk as it was skewed by (I think) 3 Sim AIs that did not play at all. Without these, it probably would have been in the 20s as well. ...and evidence that depth is not essential (running a balanced attack, I wasn't overly dependent on any position).
I actually feel like I'm just starting to understand successful recruiting strategies. I usually agree with the GUESS ratings but most of the time don't use them in the recruiting process per se. For me, it's more about *fit* (except maybe on the OL & DL). Generally, I agree with the points made above, and would just add:
1. For recruiting, studs are always better, but you have to pick your targets according to your system: for instance, if you run conservatively, find a high Str back that might be mediocre on other attributes. The point is that the value of your recruit exceeds the value perceived by other coaches (and sometimes even GUESS), and you'll be less likely to battle.
2. I think you gotta RS 3 players each season. STL no matter what position (except KorP I guess). Choose the high potential/high WE guys otherwise. By the time they see the field as a JR or SR, their value will very likely far exceed their initial GUESS ratings as a recruit.
3. For scheduling, I see no reason to have more than a max of 3 human/tough teams in the NC schedule. For recruiting vision, you're rewarded for sheer # of wins, not ranking. Find the right fit. If you're a passing team, try to schedule good teams with weak secondaries so they have a shot at beating other teams, but not you. Etc.
4. Who knows what a solid game plan is??? This is frankly a serious weakness of the game. Formation IQ at this point counts for very little, so don't feel limited here. Scout your opponents. One coach I know was using 4-4 against Pro-set. For the 3 games prior to our game, I ran exclusively a few plays a game from Pro-Set, and then always-passed aggressively in our game. Another was playing 3-4 against (I think) trips--ran conservatively, and made some good yards. Etc. This sort of thing can be effective, but it's always a gamble. Play to your strengths--if you have a stud RB, make sure he sees the ball. If you have a good defense, be aggressive. Etc.
5. Practice plan--at this point, the play outcomes are determined much more by player ratings (+ mystery) than formation IQ. Give at least 20min to core attributes you want to grow. I put minutes into Form IQ, some coaches don't....
FWIW, I was shocked that MMA made it, and won the title game a couple seasons ago--I actually thought last year's team that got bumped in the 2nd round was better, but had an injury knock out one of my best DBs in the 2nd half of that game, and couldn't stop his passing attack. Probably would have lost anyway though. So, take everything with a fistful of salt. Hopefully, I can keep these guys contenders as I'd like to stick around for a while...
Hope this helps--I'd be happy to add more, and would be very interested to hear others' thoughts, especially if I'm full of crap on something. ;)