But when the door closes around 8:30 a.m. and the hearing begins, what's in the air shouldn't matter. The 10-member committee will decide Ohio State's sanctions based on the evidence the NCAA enforcement staff provided and the words of the OSU administrators.
"You focus on the record and the people in front of you," a former committee member said. "You do not have in mind outside agendas or talk about summits or even media reports. You build a box around your head and keep that stuff out."
Ohio State was all too aware what Tressel was from the start: a steady performer, a ruthless worker, and above all an orthodox cheater and horrendous gambler.**
WHEN THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL IN BOLD TYPE FONT..
Jim Tressel has resigned as head coach at Ohio St. Luke Fickell will serve as interim head coach for the 2011 season and a search for a new head coach will commence following the season.
Or perhaps, it would be more appropriate to say that Tressel was "resigned" by the university, according to the Columbus Dispatch who first reported the story.
Naturally, we are most concerned with how this affects the Cornhuskers, right?
1) With the program now officially in disarray status - fired coach, interim coach, impending sanctions, player suspensions, who is the new coach - how does this affect their chances in next year's matchup in Lincoln?
2) Does Bo become a target again?
The name being thrown out the most this morning is Urban Meyer, but we've a year to wait. If NU lights it up in its first tour around the Big 10, does Pelini become an option to come home and fix the Bucks with a decent rebuild job already under his belt at Nebraska?
"If we had known, myself, [Ohio State athletic director] Gene [Smith] and the NCAA all would have handled it a little bit differently," Delany said before departing BCS meetings Thursday.
Delany appealed along with the school for the five players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, to be considered for participation in the Sugar Bowl. A little-known rule loophole allowed the players' five-game suspensions to be deferred.
Here is what's not going to happen. Athletic director Gene Smith and President E. Gordon Gee are not going to have another press conference. Good Lord, the last one was bad enough when Gee allowed the words "I'm just hoping that the coach doesn't dismiss me" to come out of his mouth. They are not going to fire Jim Tressel.
Tressel has a decision to make. He can ride out the storm and return after his five-game suspension. Then he can ride out the next storm -- which will be bigger -- and try to get to the end of the season. He is powerful enough to do both things. But it won't be pretty and there will be significant damage to the university he says he loves so dearly. Or he could take an honest look at the landscape and do the honorable thing and resign. It's a tough call but it's the right call.
In a "notice of allegations" given to Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee on Friday and obtained by The Dispatch, the NCAA accused Tressel of dishonesty for hiding violations by seven current and former players who sold awards and equipment to a tattoo-parlor owner.
Ohio State, however, was not cited for "failure to monitor" or "failure of institutional control" violations, which would likely lead to the harshest of penalties. Such penalties are typically imposed when a university's compliance program is weak.
"That was very significant," a source close to the investigation told The Dispatch today.
Ohio State officials declined immediate comment on the NCAA notice.
The best-case scenario for Ohio State is the NCAA accepting the university's self-imposed sanctions on Tressel, which include a $250,000 fine and five-game suspension. The worst-case scenario is a range of sanctions that could prevent the Buckeyes from playing in the Big Ten Championship and a bowl game next season and strip OSU of last year's victories and Big Ten title.
Cicero said when he asked Tressel to keep the e-mails confidential, he meant that he would not go to the media or the public, not that Tressel couldn't inform the school or launch his own investigation.
"I wanted him to know that the kids had been hanging out with a person who was the subject of a federal investigation," Cicero said when asked why he told Tressel about the players' relationship with Eddie Rife, the owner of the tattoo parlor. "As a result of that, I also heard that they had been exchanging memorabilia with this particular person. And I outlined that in the e-mail. I threw it out there, quite frankly, it was just to tell him [Tressel] that that's what it was."
Coach Tressel has earned my eternal support.
Ohio State will be holding a press conference at 7 p.m. ET. President Gordon Gee, AD Gene Smith, and head coach Jim Tressel will be present.
It will be streamed live at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.
In 10 years at Ohio State, Jim Tressel's legacy of winning is quickly becoming legend.