Strategy Guide
Top Five NCAA Football 12 (Re)Building Projects

Although it can be fun to start a dynasty with a powerhouse program and try to maintain their dominance, it’s also satisfying to take a lower-level team and build them into a national contender. 

I’ve chosen some two- and three-star programs that I think are well suited for a rebuilding project. This list includes three major conference programs that have seen better days, as well as two mid-majors on the rise. The player names in this article are based on Fairdale Kings’ rosters, with no edits made to the player ratings. I’ve also included each player’s number and overall rating in case you’re not playing with named rosters.


The Bruins were dominant in the 1980s and had some success in the 90s, but the last decade of UCLA football hasn’t been the same. 

Thankfully, the virtual Bruins are set up perfectly for a rebuilding job. For a two-star program, there’s a lot of young talent on this squad, and the ability to tap into the rich California talent pool when recruiting will always help. Your offense should center around junior HB Johnathan Franklin (#23, 89 OVR). There’s good young talent at the skill positions as well, including freshman QB Brett Hundley (#14, 72 OVR), freshman WR Devin Lucien (#80, 73 OVR, 90 speed), and sophomore HB Malcolm Jones (76 OVR). Plus, UCLA’s playbook contains a nice array of offenses, including the Pistol (or “Revolver”) and more traditional sets. UCLA’s chief in-game weakness is the offensive line, so steer clear of some of the slower developing run and pass plays until you’ve solidified that unit.


For a brief time in the 1990s, Northwestern was on top of the college football world, winning consecutive Big Ten titles. But they haven’t won a bowl game since the 1948 Rose Bowl. With the talent on their starting roster, there’s no reason you can’t make that streak end in year one. It all starts with the deadly combination of senior QB Dan Persa (#7, 92 OVR) and senior WR Jeremy Ebert (#11, 89 OVR). Although most of your top talent graduates after year one, sophomore Mike Trumpy (#29, 81 OVR) will be around for a couple more years, as will a couple of solid sophomore wideouts in Rashad Lawrence (#17, 77 OVR) and Tony Jones (#12, 75 OVR). A lot of your recruiting pitches are poor for a major conference school but the A+ in Academic Prestige and A in Conference Prestige will help. Plus, you start with pipelines in Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Florida and California, and as a three-star program, you should be able to pull in good talent right away. 


Between 1897-1923, Vanderbilt won 13 conference championships. Since 1923, they’ve won zero. Aren’t they a little past due? Yes, Vanderbilt is the lowest-rated team in the SEC and they only start as a two-star program, but Vandy has pipelines in Florida and Texas, A+ recruiting pitches in Academic and Conference Prestige and a solid young receiving corps. Priority No. 1 should be recruiting a solid quarterback, although freshman Lafonte Thourogood (No. 7, 69 OVR) can be a decent placeholder for a couple years. Your future stars on offense are sophomore WR Jonathan Krause (No. 17, 79 OVR) and sophomore HB Wesley Tate (No. 24, 76 OVR), while the defense offers sophomore FS Kenny Ladler (No. 27, 77 OVR). The roster doesn’t have many highly rated players, but there are enough young players rated in the 70s overall that you’re unlikely to fall off a cliff. Vanderbilt starts off as the bottom-dweller in the game’s highest-rated conference, but with that challenge comes a huge opportunity. Having a decent record in the SEC leads to rankings, good bowl bids, and higher prestige. Before long, you can make the Commodores respectable. 


In some ways, taking Southern Methodist University to the top of the NCAA football word would represent the culmination of the ultimate rebuild. The SMU football program is the only program in NCAA Division 1 history to receive the “death penalty.” The Ohio State and Miami scandals absolutely pale in comparison to what happened at SMU, which was banned from fielding a team during the 1987 season and chose to cancel the 1988 season because of a lack of quality players. But things are looking up for the Mustangs, on the real and virtual fields. You’ve got a talented roster, headlined by junior QB Kyle Padron (No. 2, 91 OVR) and junior HB Zach Line (No. 48, 91 OVR). SMU also offers classic uniforms, a wide-open passing offense and the ability to recruit in Texas. Since realignment is all the rage, try moving SMU to the Big 12 after year one and show the other schools in Texas that you’re not a punching bag anymore.


Thirty years ago, the University of Central Florida played in Division III. Last year, they won 11 games en route to a conference championship and beat Georgia in a bowl game. That’s a lot of progress. UCF has a terrific sophomore quarterback, Jeff Godfrey (No. 22, 87 OVR, 83 speed) as the centerpiece of the offense. UCF doesn’t have the best recruiting pitches, but with starting pipelines in Florida and Georgia, coupled with a three-star prestige rating, you’re not in bad shape. Your talent isn’t entirely senior-heavy, either, so if you can recruit the right pieces to put around Godfrey, you could have a dominant offense by the third year. Junior HB Brynn Harvey (No. 34, 87 OVR) is also fun to use, and the wide variety in UCF’s playbook keeps things from getting boring. Houston and Tulsa are your only real competition in Conference USA, so this team is poised to make the jump to the Big East when you’re ready. 

Closing Thoughts
In this game, it’s possible to build any team into a power with enough time and patience. The key is choosing a school that makes the process enjoyable. The schools in this article feature a variety of play styles and contexts, but they all have the potential to contend sooner rather than later. 

Have any OS readers had success using these teams? What are your favorite teams to build or rebuild?

NCAA Football 12 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 drustrk3 @ 10/20/11 02:50 PM
Great idea for a article. I'm using Vandy, in my second season. It's such a struggle in the SEC but a lot of my conference games have been close. I went 2-10 in my first season (SEC ELites Heisman Sliders) I recruited a decent class. I was very disappointed in my 4 star HB's eventual rating. I'm trying to red shirt guys I dont need to buy them that extra year of progression.

So far in year 2 I'm 2-3 with very near upsets to #3 Alabama and at Ole Miss. I need that one big win! Either way, I'm loving this dynasty and hoping to get things going with a close to 500 year. My offense will need a rebuild next year as a freshman qb (Gray) and new RBs will have to take over. My prestige took a big hit and went down to 1 * so it's going to continue to be a challenge
# 2 blkrptnt819 @ 10/20/11 02:56 PM
# 3 DJ @ 10/20/11 04:06 PM
Indiana is another school to consider. I'm using them right now and am off to a 3-3 start.
# 4 OGKing @ 10/20/11 04:14 PM
Baylor is also a good Rebuilding Project as someone once stated, great QB, start from there.

Other good choices are Washington State University, and Purdue.
# 5 Juggernaut55 @ 10/20/11 05:51 PM
Just Started one with my Huskers gonna try and get them over the hump...when I first got the game I used TCU and turned them into hell on wheels
# 6 RedZoneD25 @ 10/20/11 06:49 PM
I had a GREAT time with Duke in NCAA Football 11. In 12, I've been running a Rutgers offline dynasty, and my other one which attempts to bring The U back to their powerhouse ways in the 80s.
# 7 Adam_in_SC @ 10/20/11 07:17 PM
What about Colorado? That is a team that has fallen off a cliff.
# 8 badflounder @ 10/21/11 01:43 AM
Indeed. My Buffs are at a low point right now but they'll be back around the Top 25 in a couple years now that they are re-recruiting Cali (especially LA) like they did in the McCartney era. They are a great candidate for this article!
# 9 bonafied0034 @ 10/21/11 02:05 AM
I always start with SMU. This year it only took me 3 years to bring home a national championship (after moving to the big east). Shortest amount of time it has taken in years.

Sent from my iPhone
# 10 SoxBrewersMarlins @ 10/21/11 03:41 AM
yup same here, like the past ncaa games im bringing back SMU, the days of the pony express shall return!!!! , not to mention the unis are as sick as any in college football imo.
# 11 beerdujour @ 10/21/11 12:30 PM
I like the Vandy selection, I usually pretend they took some of the family money and "helped" bring-in some better talent, cool background to the stadium, also good mascot and unis...always a fierce battle week to week in the SEC!
# 12 KingV2k3 @ 10/21/11 12:33 PM
I had a blast with SMU and UCLA in NCAA11...

This year I went with Freshman QBs, so I can play their entire 4 year career...

LA Tech (Isham @ QB) has been a lot of fun...

The WAC is an 8 team conference until after season one, when 3 teams leave for the MW, so you can either rebuild the conference or move the team...

I decided to move a few teams over (to take the departing teams place) and then will probably move LA Tech to C-USA to replace teams that are rumored to be moving to the Big East...

Lots of variety in opponents a fun offence (Air Raid) and two solid states to recruit from, LA and TX...
# 13 MrPolo7 @ 10/21/11 12:41 PM
Originally Posted by SoxBrewersMarlins
yup same here, like the past ncaa games im bringing back SMU, the days of the pony express shall return!!!! , not to mention the unis are as sick as any in college football imo.
I love there uniforms for some reason, and I also love bringing back the Pony Express with the spread option ha...last dynasty I had with them I lead the NCAA is rushing for 4 years as the OC, lost 2 BCS bowls though because of the Def...
# 14 speedtrucker @ 10/21/11 01:36 PM
I have Pitt, trying to return them to their Tony Dorsett days of glory.

2011 went 10-2 losing to USF(Big East Champs) and Utah in a heartbreaker, led the entire game and missed 2 FGs to ice the game only to watch Utah march down the field and score with less than 10 seconds on the clock. went to the champs bowl against Florida State, won big finished #25

2012 started the season #25 - I'm 5-3 again losing to USF ranked #23 thanks to big wins over ranked teams.

tough rebuilding job because I lost way too much on Defense, I can score but I can't stop a good team on defense.
# 15 Petey B @ 10/22/11 01:27 AM
So sad to see UCLA top this list, and in reality Slick Rick has decimated a once great program even more than when he got the broken team first handed to his arthritic clutches. And that's why S.D. State is a very fun program to build up in this game. As you win more, you'll fill up an NFL stadium as you play all home games in Qualcomm, plus please schedule and easily brutalize the Bruins (as much as it hurts my heart to write...) and then schedule the Trojans. If you can shock the crowd at the Coliseum then recruiting opens up for you to the finest starred athletes in all of Cali. Soon enough, Pete Carroll will recognize and envy what you've built, a football empire by the beach.
# 16 BaylorBearBryant @ 10/22/11 04:45 AM
In year 1 of SJSU dynasty as OFF Coordinator. Looking forward to using Tate Forcier next year. He'll be an upgrade over my current QB. Once Forcier graduates, I'll look to change teams.
# 17 UltimateAvgGuy @ 10/22/11 01:10 PM
Anyone else do it like me and create a cupcake team and throw them in a tough conference?
# 18 IJay21 @ 10/23/11 09:55 PM
Im playing with SMU. I'm currently in 2015 and moved the team to the SEC West. Ive won two national titles since playing with them. I had a feeling the SMU would be on this list,lol.
# 19 redhawka10 @ 10/24/11 10:55 PM
I always rebuild my Kentucky Wildcats
# 20 terpsfan1978 @ 10/25/11 01:34 AM
I play heisman default sliders. patch 3.

I've taken the worst team rating wise in the game, Akron, and took them to the orange bowl win their second year. First year I won the godaddy bowl...lol. 2 loss season first year, 1 loss the second.

Nevertheless, you would think if you won an orange bowl, your school prestige would move up more than 1 star. Currently at 3. I think that's dumb.

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