But likely after receiving word that a former OSU teaching assistant alleged that Clarett had received preferential treatment during a Wednesday meeting with NCAA officials and university committee, Tressel appeared to be bracing for the worst.
There were hopes that Clarett would be cleared sometime this week, so he could join his teammates in preparation for the opener. But the testimony by former TA Norma McGill seems to signal that the NCAA probe into Clarett's academic and amateur standing could take a while longer.
When asked if Clarett could be in the lineup for the opener, Tressel said, "I would doubt it. We've had what, 19 or 20 practices? There will be some guys, along with Maurice, perhaps we may not have" available for the opener.
Tressel was also asked if he had any idea how long the investigation could take.
"I don't know the answer to that," he said. "We would like it to go faster, of course. We are working night and day on what we're doing. We will handle things as they come. We don't have any control over those things.
"Once the process that is out of our control is defined, then we'll define where we are."
According to the Associated Press, McGill met with investigators for more than two hours Wednesday at a downtown hotel in Lexington, Ky.
``They were concerned about test scores, about cheating in the classroom, things like that,'' said McGill, a teaching assistant in Clarett's African-American and African Studies class last fall.
During the meeting, McGill was shown test scores from the class, which she said had been altered since she left the school. McGill said she hoped the investigation would ``heat up.''
``I was hoping that the NCAA would investigate and see what's going on at OSU with the football team, and the academics at OSU would be investigated, that a panel would be set up and they would see what departments are actually assisting students and student-athletes in getting their grades, not just the African-American Studies Department,'' McGill said.
McGill has charged that Clarett walked out of a midterm exam last fall and ended up passing the entry-level course after professor Paulette Pierce provided him with an oral exam. McGill said Clarett was the only person of the more than 90 students taking the class who received an oral exam.
McGill said Wednesday that during the meeting with the NCAA and Ohio State's panel, she was also asked about wide receiver/cornerback Chris Gamble, defensive back E.J. Underwood and graduated wide receiver Chris Vance.
But Tressel said Wednesday he knew of no inquiries by the NCAA about Gamble, Underwood or Vance.
Clarett has not practiced with the team since the school suspended him prior to the start of fall camp. In addition to his academic status, investigators are also looking into a police report Clarett filed in April regarding a break-in and theft from a car he had been loaned by a Columbus area used car dealer.