I don't think your thoughts are correct. There was never any hope that he would get new commits prior to December 31st. And he stated he would not pressure any incumbent recruits/commits to sign.
It would have been a low-rent move to have a handshake agreement that he become the head coach, but wait to officially sign him until January 1st. And I'm sure there would have been some sort of lawsuit if we'd have tried it.
Who cares about the $350,000? It is chump change in the world of D-1 athletics. The Nebraska game that we didn't play footed the bill, with $300,000 left over. The South Carolina game paid for Bowden's buyout, with $600,000 left over.
Notre Dame paid Charlie Weis $19,000,000 not to coach the Irish.
Kansas then paid him $5,650,000 to not coach the Jawhawks