after i dropped both my a+ prestige d1 programs, a season after i meant to (which meant my resume was destroyed, with apparently 50% being the last season in which i had a 1-26 record at one school....). so im currently rebuilding south carolina from b- prestige, low talent, and no NTs in 25 seasons (1 pit). I haven't popped the big one yet, and last season i totally forgot to schedule and then did nothing all season (wife having the baby and all), so they made the PIT - or else it would (should) have been my 4th straight NT appearance. but its went pretty well overall, after the standard 1-2 seasons of uselessness, i had 3 straight 2nd rounds with the third of those being a sweet 16, and am residing at an a-.
obviously, the game plan at that b+ to a- range will change a lot, but getting there in the first place is a big challenge. here are my tips for getting there:
trim the fat. i think i cut 3 players and they weren't even that bad. you have to cut the players who are too ******. depending on the team you take over, you usually don't hope for a post season right away - so cut now, and take your lumps up front.
when recruiting, DO NOT FILL YOUR SCHOLARSHIPS. DO NOT FEEL ANY PRESSURE TO DO SO. you NEED the extra 30k from 2 walkons to recruit better talent. and so many coaches make the mistake of signing bad players to fill spots. remember - an open spot can hurt you for 1 season. a bad player will screw you over for 4. anything up to 4 walkons should be considered acceptable (especially when you are in that early rebuild period before you hope to make post seasons), and I would intentionally take at least one and hopefully 2 each year.
you have 0 chance of signing the best players in the country. thats ok. look for the diamonds in the rough. one of my best players in my first class was a juco 3, ended up to be very good for me. you need to find players who will develop into being very good at SOMETHING. top teams have players that are very good at EVERYTHING. but you don't need that to make the NT regularly. you can read my recent interview if you haven't for a bit more information on philosophy on team planning (building a team with good synergy, where the players complement each other), but in short, team planning is super super important.
so, you just need to be disciplined. teams have to have good rebounders. so, dont hesitate to take a big with 5 lp and no per/bh/pass that other schools might pass by. its not hard to get a 65/70 ath, 90-100 reb, 80+ def/sb player. those players can help you compete.
you also need a couple top notch scorers. you aren't going to get the 95ath/spd/per/bh guys. so find a guy who is maybe going to project into 60 ath, 60 def, 95 spd, 95 per, say maybe 70 bh/pass. those players exist, but top schools don't want them. they look at those guys, and go that guy is too much of a liability. you need to look at him and go wow, that guy can score 18 ppg on my crappy team at high efficiency, what a gem, i better grab him.
so again, just make sure you aren't looking for mediocre guys who are decent at everything but good/great at nothing. they are useless and you will never make it on those guys. if you can get a good well rounded player, fine. but if you are taking lower talent guys, you need to find people who are good at SOMETHING so you can take advantage of it. now, they cant be such a huge liability it kills you, like you can get a 100spd/per guard with 5 defense and 10 passing.
also be creative about who you are willing to play at your SF positions, and backup positions. that will help a lot.
in terms of actual recruiting mechanics, dont over shoot early, but find the role players you like and jump on them fast. these kind of players would eventually go to better BCS schools who miss on their players, if they were available or going to a lesser school. but any BCS school is formidable enough, you can hold off just about anyone from your specialized players if you get them early. look hard, don't hold yourself to 360 miles on these kinds of players, and take advantage of internationals.
also, remember that without making the post season, wins are how to get your prestige up. if you aren't shooting for 10 wins a season till you get to an a- prestige, you are really shooting yourself in the foot. (readers beware - this is advice for BCS conferences. if you are trying to rebuild in an empty conf, it could be a different story, although its generally true for ANY team who doesnt expect to make the NT, that you need to whore yourself out for as many wins as possible).