Ohio State AD still supporting Jim Tressel

CHICAGO -- There's a feeling that Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has been distancing himself from embattled coach Jim Tressel in recent weeks.

Smith noted last month in an interview with the Associated Press that Tressel should have apologized at the infamous March 8 news conference. Smith talked about the high legal costs Ohio State is dealing with and called the ongoing NCAA situation "a nightmare."

The Buckeyes' AD declined to discuss any details of the NCAA situation Wednesday at the Big Ten spring meetings, but he reaffirmed his support for Tressel.

"Oh, definitely, no question," Smith said. "I haven't changed, I haven't changed. But I'm not talking about the case beyond that."

Tressel has received support at the spring meetings from fellow coaches like Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, as well as from Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne, a longtime friend.

"Coaches are great," Tressel said. "They understand all the challenges everyone has. It's good to be with them."

Tressel addressed reporters for less than a minute Tuesday morning, but he did talk about new Michigan coach Brady Hoke and the fuel Hoke has added to the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.

"Brady's awesome," Tressel said. "Anything that's good for the Ohio State-Michigan game, I'm for it. And Brady's good for it."