I'm no expert by any means, so don't take this the wrong way, but it sounds like you need someone to give you some serious recruiting pointers.
For starters, unless you had 12 open scholarships (which is odd but possible) then I'm not sure why you offered 12. It's a waste of $100 to offer unless you are serious about the player in question, at least in my opinion.
To beat Sims you must determine if it's worth it and if it is, you need to recruit just enough to get past the level they're at and then the guy is yours. Others can probably help more with this.
I agree you shouldn't be going that far away unless your local talent pool is completely gone, and its usually not (even if you think it is, there are usually some decent guys left by the last day).
The only reason guys ended up "not signing with anybody" is because no one put enough effort into them to get them to consider their school seriously. If you had given them enough effort (and probably spent your recruiting dollars more wisely), they'd have signed with you simply because there was no one else to sign with.
Run a search in the forums for recruiting and read some of the threads and get some advice from some of the better coaches (better than me and there are many who are) and take the advice seriously. Put in some time, get some experience at it, and you should get better.