Well I went to the lion brand site and if it's the sweater I think it is, I don't think what I suggested would work. (I think it would have worked well if the sweater were a yoke or raglan type knit in the round with identical front and back, but alas, it's not. Pretty limited situation now that I think about it... oh well. It was worth a shot I guess!) Your idea sounds good to me.
Oh, how about this? What I would do is to leave the center back and front stitches on holders instead of binding off -- and then just work from those live stitches when doing the ribbing -- you'd still have to pick up a few along the sides of the front, but it wouldn't be nearly as bad as having to pick up the whole way around. I've read that it's a good idea to put the back neck stitches on holders instead of binding off anyway, because it reduces the likelihood that the neckband will be too tight.