COLUMBUS, Ohio — Marcus Hall would like to leave the moment in the past, but it’s forever going to be part of his future. The former Ohio State guard regrets his actions and how far he let his emotions take him, but he will sign his autograph on photos capturing his gesture as he headed up the tunnel at Michigan after his ejection.
+ EnlargeAP Photo/Carlos OsorioFor better or worse, Ohio State’s Marcus Hall will always be known for his actions during and after a brawl with Michigan.He’s something of a legend to Buckeyes fans, already a fixture on T-shirts and a soon-to-be staple of the highlight packages that play up the most heated rivalry in college football. But Hall would rather be known for something other than flipping off a stadium if he had his way, and in the short term he’s still dealing with the fallout of his Michigan Meltdown as he meets with NFL teams and prepares for the upcoming draft. Just more than three months after the infamous incident, Hall is still wrestling with the tangled mix of pros and cons that have followed him endlessly since a few short seconds of madness, sitting somewhere in the middle of trying to move on and embracing his past.
“I can’t ignore it, because when I see the fans, they make it this big deal,” Hall said Friday. “I’m like, ‘No, man, it wasn’t even supposed to be like that.’ … I actually just show up to do signings like every other player, and that picture is what the fans want. I love the Buckeye fans, and they love me.
“But it was definitely by mistake, because I don’t want anybody to think that I’m proud of it or anything like that. I’m more so just trying to take a negative thing and turn it into a positive.”
There wouldn’t have been much downside if Hall had simply been ejected for fighting during the second-quarter brawl with the Wolverines and left the field with a level head. The senior certainly wouldn’t have had to deal with the pain of missing the Big Ten title game due to suspension if he’d simply strolled up to the tunnel and accepted a punishment he admitted was justified in a media session following his pro day workout on campus.
But without his bench-kicking, helmet-tossing, finger-raising tirade, there would be little about Hall that would make him stand out in Ohio State lore, even though he was an integral part of a record-setting 24-game winning streak and started 31 times in his career as a member of one of the most explosive offenses in school history.
There wouldn’t be as many people clamoring for his signature, for starters. But then, Hall might also be able to focus more on his improved flexibility, the noticeable improvement he made technically as a blocker and the great shape he’s in now at 6-foot-5, 313 pounds instead of answering questions about his emotions from prospective employers.
“I just tell them that I got caught up in the moment,” Hall said. “I don’t try to give them this sob story or anything, I just lost it. I just felt like my love for this university and the game came out in the wrong way. … I don’t want to go back and try to point the finger like I wasn’t wrong. I was completely wrong for what I did.
“I feel like it’s good and bad, you know…
Some spring weather for spring football would be nice. As part of his continuing education, Braxton Miller is using new technology to have his progress monitored during Ohio State’s camp.
After competing solely against himself with mixed results a year ago, Michigan is hoping a battle with Shane Morris will bring out the best in Devin Gardner.
James Franklin is open to playing his former program, so Penn State may look into a game with Vanderbilt “if it makes sense.”
All three quarterbacks in the derby for the starting job at Illinois took reps with the first team as part of offensive coordinator Bill Cubit’s effort to make the playing field as level as possible.
Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst declined to comment on a possible contract extension for Bo Pelini.
Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave will be limited early in spring practice due to a shoulder injury suffered in the Capital One Bowl.
Fixing the offensive line is at the top of the priority list as Purdue opens its camp in Darrell Hazell’s second season with the program.
After suffering through a stretch near the end of the season of 13 quarters without an offensive touchdown, Minnesota has no shortage of motivation on the practice field.
An early look at Northwestern’s defensive line and one potential option for beefing up on the interior.
Coaches around the Big Ten expressed their displeasure with the proposed 10-second rule to slow down offenses, and they won’t have to worry about it passing now.
Covers Ohio State and the Big Ten.Joined ESPN in 2012.Attended the University of Wyoming. Tags:Purdue Boilermakers, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Big Ten Conference, Northwestern Wildcats, Illinois Fighting Illini, Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines, Wisconsin Badgers, Big Ten, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Bo Pelini, Devin Gardner, Braxton Miller, Darell Hazell, Joel Stave, Shane Morris, Bill Cubit, James Franklin, Shawn Eichorst
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Whether Braxton Miller was healthy enough to throw a football or not, the first few entries on the spring checklist didn’t require him to do it. + EnlargeSteve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsOhio State QB Braxton Miller will work on the mental side of football this spring.Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman rattled off the priorities a few days before Miller underwent minor surgery on his throwing shoulder last month. And while there might still be mechanical improvements to be made with his star quarterback, they were almost an afterthought as the two set the course for his last season with the program. Herman stressed even more dedication to film study. He wanted Miller to know opposing defenses inside and out and be ready to diagram them on the whiteboard whenever he might be prompted to do so. The Buckeyes expect the spread offense to be second nature to him heading into his third season operating the system. Miller tacked one more thing on himself, making it clear that he anticipated becoming a better leader than he has been.
Nothing on this list requires Miller to actually toss a football. So it shouldn’t really matter that he’s expected to be limited physically when camp opens for Ohio State on Tuesday.
“I think probably as improved as he got in the mental side of playing quarterback in 2013, he still can get a whole lot better,” Herman said. “He can probably make that same leap this year and still have work to do.
“Just the constant studying of the game, studying of defenses and the studying of our plays now that we’ve kind of done the same thing for two years in a row. … I think he’s getting to that point where all that stuff is slowing down, and he needs to stay on that path.”
Miller has largely made the journey look pretty easy over the past couple pf seasons, steadily improving his numbers, piling up victories and collecting enough individual trophies to fill several mantles in his parents’ house. But for all of his personal success and the 24-game winning streak the Buckeyes put together following the arrival of coach Urban Meyer, there have also been a handful of moments that Herman can point to as evidence that Miller isn’t a finished product yet.
He doesn’t have to go back too far to find tapes to drive the point home. There were a pair of uneven outings in Ohio State’s losses in the Big Ten title game against Michigan State and the Discover Orange Bowl to Clemson, performances where Miller alternated between his trademark brilliance and moments of indecision or uncertainty that proved costly. The key for Herman, though, is that those losses weren’t because Miller didn’t possess the fundamentals to take his game to a higher level as a passer. …
Here’s a team-by-team look at what to watch in the new Big Ten East this spring. Indiana
Spring start: March 8
Spring game: TBA
What to watch
Getting defensive: The Hoosiers have had no trouble scoring since Kevin Wilson took over the program, but opponents have made it look even easier. New defensive coordinator Brian Knorr might have his hands full turning around the Big Ten’s worst unit, but Indiana could be dangerous if he can.
Quarterback derby: The offense operated just fine with Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld taking turns leading the attack, so Wilson might not even need to settle on just one quarterback. Typically it does help to have a pecking order behind center, though, and the Hoosiers will be watching these guys closely to see if one can gain some separation.
Next in line: There is a ready-made candidate to take over as the team’s most productive receiver, but Shane Wynn is going to need some help. For all his speed and elusiveness, Wynn is still undersized and doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional receiver, which will make it necessary for somebody like Nick Stoner to step up to help replace Cody Latimer.
Maryland Spring start: March 1
Spring game: April 11
What to watch
Get healthy: The Terrapins have one of the most talented groups of wide receivers in the country when they’re completely healthy, but that was an issue last season with both Stefon Diggs and Deon Long suffering broken legs — just for starters. Neither of those game-breakers is expected to be on the field this spring, but their respective rehabs are critical moving forward.
Give and take: An emphasis on protecting the football on offense and creating more turnovers defensively is nothing new in spring practice, but Randy Edsall might just double down on that message this year. The Terrapins finished last in the ACC in turnover margin last season and were ranked No. 102 in the nation with seven more giveaways than takeaways, which isn’t a recipe for success in any league.
Coaching chemistry: The deck wasn’t completely reshuffled, but the Terrapins will have three new assistants in charge and could use a seamless transition as they prepare to move to a new league. Keenan McCardell (wide receivers), Chad Wilt (defensive line) and Greg Studrawa (offensive line) will help deliver Edsall’s message moving forward, and it’s as crucial for a coaching staff to jell and find common ground as it is for players on the field.
Michigan Spring start: Feb. 25
Spring game: April 5
What to watch
Go pro: If it was the coordinator keeping Brady Hoke from putting the offense he wanted on the field, that won’t be an issue anymore with Al Borges out of the picture. Snapping up Doug Nussmeier from Alabama should put the Wolverines on the path for a more traditional pro-style attack, and establishing that playbook starts on the practice field in spring.
Quarterback quandary: The competition to lead the new-look offense is open between Devin Gardner and Shane Morris, and how that battle shakes out will obviously have a lasting impact and shape the season for the Wolverines. Gardner has the edge in experience and turned in a gritty, wildly productive outing against Ohio State while injured to end the season, but he certainly has lacked consistency. …
The NFL combine is officially underway in Indianapolis, and six former Ohio State players are out to prove they have what it takes to play at the next level. Essentially a glorified job interview, the combine gives draft hopefuls the chance to showcase their speed, strength, agility and intellect. Players can participate in drills such as the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical/broad jumps and the shuttle run. How are the former Buckeyes stacking up? We’ll be tracking their progress and results all week right here. All combine results via NFL.com. All draft projections via Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Begin Slideshow
The links would like to be back in Indianapolis, but they’re never going pro. After picking up some new hardware, Braxton Miller talks about his decision to return to Ohio State for one more season.
Is there really a quarterback competition on tap for Michigan this spring? Opinions are somewhat divided ahead of the start of camp for the Wolverines.
Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard is fighting to be the first cornerback taken in the draft, and a strong showing at the NFL combine could put him in that position.
Reserve guard Tanner Hartman is leaving Penn State, dropping James Franklin’s roster down to 78 scholarship players. The Nittany Lions eventually need to get down to 75 by August.
Bo Pelini has a new administrator to report to as Nebraska made a personnel change in the football operations department.
At the top of the list of questions for Indiana’s offense: Who is the top quarterback heading into spring practice?
The Northwestern hearings continued on Wednesday as the debate focused on whether or not players could be considered employees.
With a presence in nearly half of the nation’s top 15 media markets, Pat Caputo calls the Big Ten a “demographics dream.”
There’s no question about Melvin Gordon’s talent, but the next step is proving the Wisconsin running back can flourish in a featured role.
Quarterback transfers appear to be on the rise, and players are both coming and going in the Big Ten.
Covers Ohio State and the Big Ten.Joined ESPN in 2012.Attended the University of Wyoming. Tags:Penn State Nittany Lions, Big Ten Conference, Michigan State Spartans, Northwestern Wildcats, Indiana Hoosiers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines, Wisconsin Badgers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Bo Pelini, Braxton Miller, Darqueze Dennard, Melvin Gordon, James Franklin, Tanner Hartman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There’s no escaping the history for Braxton Miller. It was there sitting on a table just off the court at Value City Arena on Wednesday night, another Silver Football with his name on it to honor the Big Ten’s most valuable player.
+ EnlargeJamie Sabau/Getty Images Braxton Miller holds the Silver Football awarded to the Big Ten’s most valuable player.It was echoed over the speakers during a presentation at midcourt as the Ohio State quarterback was identified as only the fourth two-time winner of the prestigious award, just before he and everybody else were reminded he could become the first to claim it three times. Even when he’s not showing up to collect some hardware, Miller only has to walk through the hallways of the practice facility on campus to see where he now ranks among the all-time greats to have suited up for the Buckeyes.
Miller doesn’t need the reminders, though, and it’s what he has yet to accomplish that at least played some part in his decision to return for one more season with the program.
“I walked past a board the other day and my name is right under Troy Smith,” Miller said. “I texted him, ‘Hey man, check this out. I’m right behind you, man.’ He said, ‘That’s a good look. Keep it up.’
“I’ve just got to keep putting in work. ? I mean, he’s got the big thing. He went to the national championship game. He’s got the Heisman. I’m working towards that, too.”
Those two entries are about the only items missing from Miller’s résumé, and while trophies might not have been the top priority on his list of pros and cons, they are clearly motivating him now that his mind has been made up about his future.
Miller stressed the importance of getting a degree and referenced how much he still has to learn about the mental side of the game as key factors for him. While he declined to specify what grade he received as part of his feedback from the draft advisory board, he called it “one of the best evaluations you can get.”
After struggling down the stretch as a passer as the Buckeyes fell out of national-title contention with a loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game and then dropped the Discover Orange Bowl to Clemson, his professional stock certainly seemed to take a hit…
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The No. 24 Ohio State Buckeyes were struggling to find their way in the first 10 minutes against Northwestern on Wednesday night before they dialed up the intensity and left the Northwestern Wildcats in the dust. Defense and rebounding led to offense as the Buckeyes caught fire and never cooled off en route to a 76-60 victory over the Wildcats in a Big Ten game in Value City Arena. “For whatever reason, I think we woke up,” Ohio State forward Sam Thompson said. “They got up nine and we drew the line. That’s what we talk about needing to do, having that killer instinct and put teams away, and I think we did that.” The Buckeyes (21-6, 8-6 Big Ten) won for the fifth time in their last six games after enduring a four-game losing streak in January. Northwestern (12-15, 5-9) lost its fourth consecutive game. The Wildcats have lost 33 straight in Columbus dating to 1977. Trailing by nine points early in the first half, the Buckeyes recovered by scoring on 20 of 22 possessions during a long stretch spanning the halves and led by as many as 21 points twice in the second half. “I thought they turned up their defense a notch,” first-year Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. ” I felt an extra burst of energy. They have a very veteran team.” The intensity boiled over late in the game. Tempers flared with 5:24 left and Ohio State leading 66-50. Several players exchanged shoves under the basket before the officials intervened. After a long delay to review replay monitors and determine fouls on the play, Northwestern forward Nikola Cerina and Ohio State forward LaQuinton Ross were ejected. After the game, official Ray Perone told a pool reporter that Cerina was disqualified for swinging at Ohio State center Amir Williams, which will result in a one-game suspension for Cerina because he used a closed hand. Ross was ejected for committing two dead-ball contact technical fouls, but he will not be suspended for fighting. The skirmish resulted in 10 free throws. Williams and guard Aaron Craft combined to make four foul shots for Ohio State. Northwestern guard JerShon Cobb made two of four free throws and forward Nathan Taphorn made one of two. But at that point the outcome had long been decided. “I think it was the consistency, no question,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said of the Buckeyes’ recovery from the lukewarm start. “The big thing was we felt like we needed a run. I thought we did a pretty good job keeping our composure. Guys knew coming out of timeouts what they needed to do and went out and executed it.” Ross scored 16 points to lead Ohio State before he was disqualified…
Ohio State trails only USC for the number of first-round draft picks it has produced, but the Buckeyes could cover some ground in 2014 when they send six alumni to Indianapolis for the NFL combine. Of those six players, three (Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby and Carlos Hyde) have a realistic shot of getting their names called on opening night of the draft. In order for that to happen, though, they’ll need to put together outstanding performances this weekend. What kinds of numbers will these former Buckeyes put up at the NFL Scouting Combine? Begin Slideshow
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The No. 24 Ohio State Buckeyes were struggling early against Northwestern, but caught fire midway through the first half and never cooled off en route to a 76-60 victory over the Wildcats at Value City Arena on Wednesday night. The Buckeyes (21-6, 8-6) won for the fifth time in their last six games after enduring a four-game losing streak in January. Northwestern (12-15, 5-9) lost its fourth consecutive game. Tempers flared with 5:24 left in the game and Ohio State leading 66-50. Several players exchanged shoves before the officials intervened. After a long delay to review replay monitors and determine fouls on the play, Northwestern forward Nikola Cerina and Ohio State forward LaQuinton Ross were ejected. The fouls resulted in 10 free throws. Ohio State center Amir Williams and guard Aaron Craft combined to make four foul shots. Northwestern guard JerShon Cobb made two of four free throws and forward Nathan Taphorn made one of two. Trailing by nine points in the first half, the Buckeyes rebounded by scoring on 20 of 22 possessions during a long stretch spanning the halves and led by as many as 21 points twice in the second half. Ross scored 16 points to lead Ohio State before he was disqualified. Guard Lenzelle Smith posted his second career double-double with 14 points and a team-leading 10 rebounds. Craft also had 14 points. Northwestern forward Drew Crawford was hot early but was slowed by foul trouble in the second half and finished with 22 points, making 8 of 13 shots from the field and 4 of 7 3-pointers. Crawford, the Wildcats’ leading scorer this season at 15.6 points-per-game, was coming off one of the worst games of his career, making 1 of 15 shots from the field and scoring two points in a loss at Minnesota on Sunday. Northwestern led by as many as nine points in the first half after center Alex Olah scored inside with 7:19 left to make it 25-16. Ohio State appeared to be in trouble at that point, but the Buckeyes charged back and went ahead 30-28 on a drive by Ross against Crawford. Northwestern reclaimed the lead briefly on a 3-pointer by guard Tre Demps before Ohio State finished the half with a 7-2 run to lead 37-33 at intermission. The Buckeyes made eight of their last nine shots from the floor in the half and scored on nine straight possessions. They finished the opening 20 minutes shooting 52 percent from the floor (13 of 25). Northwestern also shot well, hitting 14 of 27 for 51.9 percent. Crawford led the Wildcats in the first half with 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. …