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Tressel expects punished players back

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) instructs Kyle Hazell, 9, son of assistant head coach and wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell, to run a route during team practices on Thursday inside the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. AP photo1 / 2
AP photo LaMichael James rushed for 1,682 yards and scored 22 touchdowns.2 / 2

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Ohio State players facing five-game suspensions next season would not have traveled with the team to the Sugar Bowl if they had not pledged to return in 2011, head coach Jim Tressel said on Thursday.

The five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have been punished by the NCAA for selling championship rings and memorabilia and taking discounts from a tattoo parlor.

Tressel said he wanted to make sure that the players wouldn't "skirt the consequences" by playing in the Sugar Bowl, then declaring for the NFL draft and avoiding any punishment.

"We told them they would have to make the decision on the NFL prior to leaving for the bowl game," Tressel said at his first Sugar Bowl news conference. "It wouldn't be fair to not face the consequences down the road."

Tressel says their playing time against the Razorbacks will hinge only on how they practice and fit into the game plan.

The other players are tailback Dan Herron, offensive tackle Mike Adams, receiver DeVier Posey and defensive end Solomon Thomas.

Tressel said he had instructed the players not to speak about the NCAA "issue" during Sugar Bowl week because of their pending appeal of the sanctions.

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he was pleased that the NCAA and Ohio State found a way to allow the players in question to compete in the Sugar Bowl.

"We want them to be eligible for the game," Petrino said. "We get to a bowl game of this magnitude, you want to play against their best players. So I think we're fortunate that they're eligible to play."

The players all sold items to or traded autographs for tattoos with the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor.

The NCAA does not permit players to use their status as college athletes to get deals or freebies.

Four sold their 2008 Big Ten championship rings for $1,000 to $1,200 apiece, Herron sold his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000, Solomon and Pryor each sold their "gold pants" trinket -- given to Buckeyes players if they beat Michigan -- for several hundred dollars. Pryor also sold a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award.

Running back LaMichael James coming back to Oregon

EUGENE, Ore. -- Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James is coming back to Oregon next season.

James, a sophomore running back and the nation's leading rusher this season, had repeatedly suggested he would forgo an early entry to the NFL draft. Thursday's announcement made it official.

"I came to the University of Oregon to get a quality education as well as to play football, and feel I have yet to complete that goal," he said in a statement.

James has thrived in Oregon's speedy spread-option offense. He has run for 1,682 yards this season, averaging 153 a game. He's also averaging a national-best 12 points a game. His 22 touchdowns (21 on the ground plus one touchdown reception) are a school record.