A couple months ago everyone was comparing Tressel to Bruce Pearl but there's a big gap between what those two scofflaws did. In contrast Tressel's violations are almost precisely in line with McNair's. He was hit with The Dread Bylaw 10.1 and got a one-year show cause. His issues:
The assistant football coach had knowledge that student-athlete 1 and agency partners A and B likely were engaged in NCAA violations.
Tressel had similar knowledge.
He was not credible in his denials of knowing agency partner A or in his claimed failure to remember a telephone call between him and agency partner A.
No one is denying it, nor could they given the email trail.
The assistant football coach failed to report information to the compliance staff regarding potential NCAA violations related to the activities of agency partners A and B.
Tressel did this.
He also attested, falsely, that he had no knowledge of NCAA violations.
During the investigation that eventually led to OSU's five-game suspensions Tressel also did this.
His conduct impeded the institution from fulfilling its responsibilities under NCAA bylaws. His conduct also resulted in findings that he violated NCAA ethical conduct legislation by providing false and misleading information to the enforcement staff as described in Finding B-1-b and that he violated NCAA Bylaw 30.3.5 by signing a document attesting, falsely, that he had no knowledge of NCAA violations involving the institution.
Tressel also did this. The inescapable conclusion is Tressel will be hit with at least a one-year show-cause penalty, as McNair was.
Show-cause penalties are not all uniform, but McNair was totally prohibited from recruiting on- or off-campus—he was banned from so much as looking at teenagers who had put on shoulder pads—and had to attend a rules seminar. He wasn't totally banned, FWIW, and USC could have hypothetically kept employing him if they were in the business of carrying around RB coaches who couldn't recruit.
Show-cause penalties also don't necessarily mean the coach hit with one will be fired. Wikipedia helpfully points out the case of Rob Senderoff, one of Kelvin Sampson's assistants. Senderoff loved him some impermissible phone calls but by the time the NCAA hit him with a 30-month show-cause penalty he had already been hired at Kent State. Since he was already there KSU did not have to fire him; he's actually their head coach(!) after the current guy left for Bradley. If Tressel's penalty is analogous to McNair's OSU will probably suck it up and try to get through it.
Will it be? McNair's cover-up went on longer and featured a high-profile player but Tressel's eventually preserved the eligibility of six guys, not one, and if the COI is serious about "high profile compliance" being necessary for high profile violators the head coach of one of the most successful programs in the country brazenly flouting NCAA regulations is an acid test.
I won't venture a guess as to what the result of that test will be, but the next couple years will be time for Brady Hoke to make hay in Ohio.