I sim day by day. I ended up deleting the game files and the modpack (which I was using). Reloaded everything and it seems to have worked. Before I deleted everything I did realize all records were duplicated i.e. if you opened a bowl game history, or rivalry history, ever result was show twice. I think it may be just a one off, and reloading everything fixed it
Even more followup. Started the game over, this time not ignoring underclassmen recruits. Got the #5 class with the following strategies:
February: Make 30 or so offers for each class year for excellent/high interest recruits immediately. You wouldn't be allowed to sign all 30, but some of them will choose other schools and it will work itself out.
Don't use any recruiting points yet, you've got way to many recruits offered to do that. You'll get a couple recruits that sign right away, and a couple more that sign with someone else right away. Keep making offers to excellent/high interest recruits to stay at the 25 per year cap, it'll give you a warning once you go over.
April: Now start using recruiting points and calling your recruits. The ones that had a favorite school in mind are out of the system now. Use 1-2 phone call topics and see how they respond. (I notice some recruits say they want to start right away but there's no option to mention that in the phone call. Maybe they look at your roster depth?). Switch to 1 topic after you find out what they're looking for, keep calling them every few weeks throughout the season. Sorting the recruiting board by interest helps. Keep making offers to keep your recruits at 25 a year.
June: Make offers for the prospect camp. Limit seems to be 17 players? At this point you'll probably find you have to dip into medium interest recruits to keep your offers at 25. Keep offering.
July: Prospect camp. Give it a day or so and then call all the players who liked your camp. The ones that didn't like your camp are probably a lost cause.
August - November: Call your highest-interest recruits every 2-3 weeks, 1 topic per call. You want to have a bunch of points left for visiting recruits. Keep offering to keep your recruits at 25 a year.
December: College contact period. Go visit the best recruits left on your list.
December: Early signing period. This is the point most of your 25-a-year offers are going to disappear. Don't bother refilling it at this point, just check and see if any new recruits suddenly gained interest in your school after all the signings.
Day before National Signing Day: Use all of the rest of your recruiting points. Visit as many players as you can afford to, and call the rest. Make walk-on offers to 2 or 1 stars who still don't have a team if you need to.
Things I don't use: recruits visiting the school. It just takes to long to pay off for the expense - I would hate using 60 recruiting points on some player in April, to visit my school in September, only to have him sign somewhere else in the meantime.
Pics, year 1 recruiting class, year 2 recruiting as of June.
The game has been great so far. It's a bit buggy and crashy, like every college football sim, but unlike the ones that claim to be a complete release, this is a beta version where bug reports might actually get fixed. This is a better product than the "professionals" are making.
Would it be possible to extend the use of the editor, so that we can edit players & coaches in-game? For example, when I play through a season and get a new recruitment class, I would like to be able to edit their names/attributes so that there's no duplicate names or so that there's more realistic names to that particular school. Editing attributes/skills would take this game really far because it would allow users to make each season personal and unique.
Thanks guys! Love from Louisiana!