Nebraska's Tom Osborne backs Jim Tressel

CHICAGO -- Tom Osborne and Jim Tressel go way back.

The two coaches -- one current, one former -- have been friends for years. Last spring, Osborne invited Tressel to Nebraska to tour the school's athletic facilities and speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet. Tressel shuffled Ohio State's spring practice schedule so he could make the trip to Lincoln.

OsborneOsborneTresselTressel"When coach Osborne calls you, you do what he asks," Tressel told reporters last April.

The respect is mutual, even as Tressel endures unprecedented scrutiny after admitting to withholding information that showed Ohio State players committed NCAA violations.

Osborne, speaking Monday at the Big Ten spring meetings, voiced his support for Tressel.

"I don't really know enough about [Ohio State's situation]," Osborne said. "I do know Jim Tressel, and I believe that Jim's an honorable person. There will be those who will criticize me for saying that, but I think I know Jim's character. What happened, I don't know a lot about the details. I certainly hope for his sake that things turn out OK, and for Ohio State."

Tressel's self-imposed five-game suspension ends Oct. 8 when his Buckeyes visit Lincoln to face Nebraska. The coach and other Ohio State officials are scheduled to appear Aug. 12 before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, which could issue additional penalties before the Ohio State-Nebraska game or shortly thereafter.

"When you're out on the road recruiting, you're not usually worried about Ohio State trying to cheat to get a player," Osborne said. "I just don't think they would do that. That's not in their DNA. It looks like there was a mistake made, but I don't know much more about the details."

Osborne also weighed in Monday on the state of violations in college football. Although the Ohio State case and the Cam Newton situation from last year have put the spotlight on improprieties in the sport, Osborne has seen much worse.

"There was cars, clothes and cash back in the 60s and the 70s," Osborne said. "And then [when] Southern Methodist got the death penalty in 1985, you began to see a real tamping down of those kinds of things. ... Today the violations are more subtle and I don't think as frequent.

"The scrutiny is much greater today, so sometimes it seems to the average observer that there's way more cheating. I can tell you from having been there and having experienced it and having dealt with it, it's not as bad today as it was."