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“There’s definitely pressure to win,” Petrino said, “but the relationship you build with your athletic director and your compliance and your chancellor is we’re all in it to win, we’re all in it to live by the rules and we all know that when one violation happens or two violations, I can walk into our athletic director’s office and our director of compliance and say, ‘Hey, look, we made a mistake here.’ And you self-report it and you live by what happens with that.”

It was Petrino’s Arkansas team that Ohio State played in the Sugar Bowl, where Tressel was allowed to use five key players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who were suspended for the first five games of the 2012 season for receiving improper benefits.

Ohio State beat the Razorbacks 31-26.

Petrino said he wanted to play Ohio State at its best, but added: “There’s no question that I don’t understand how they were eligible to play in the game. I just don’t and I never will.”

But that doesn’t mean he was happy to see the scandal come back to bite Tressel.

“I can’t say that I was surprised, but I feel for him. When something like that happens, you never like to see it,” he said. “I feel for him, his family. It affects a lot of other people within the state, the university, so feel for all of those people.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban said he and Tressel came up through the coaching ranks together.

“I feel like I guess if you were in the military you would say, ‘We lost a fine comrade in this whole thing,’” Saban said. “I don’t know the details of all the circumstances and situation there and certainly don’t want to comment on that. But certainly there were mistakes made and whatever and there are going to be consequences for it. I still think this is one of the finest people in our profession and certainly hate to see what’s happening happen.”


AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this report.


Ralph D. Russo can be reached at