You're right, they would have needed to go to the NCAA eventually, but if they had suspended the players when they knew about the infractions, I think that the NCAA would be much more likely to accept the argument that they didn't notify them because they were protecting the players. There would have been no lie, just an understandable delay in notification. I believe the NCAA would have accepted time served and moved on.
I believe that he is trapped in a web of lies and is still lying. The one glaring hole that your argument doesn't address is that although Tressel knew that the players deeds would eventually come to light, he didn't believe his e-mails would. He knew that the players deeds would only make them inelligible from the point that they were discovered and I believe he made a calculated decision to delay their inelligibility to win games in a season that could have ended in a national championship. It was only when his e-mails were discovered that the idea of "protecting the players" was put forward. At this point, if Tressel were truly a team player, he would have resigned. Now his selfishness is taking tOSU, loyal supporters like you and even those who don't support him down with him.
Ohioinme - You must be living on Fantasy Island if you think your rationalizations bear any resemblance to reality. If Coach Tressel had not been concerned with wins, he could have suspended the 5 for unspecified team rules violations. Protecting the players and handing out appropriate punishments could have been accomplished without impeding the federal investigation and would have kept the OSU reputation intact. Tressel is not OSU and at this point I don't believe you can be loyal to both.