FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — When it rains, it does not merely pour at Ohio State.
"That was a monsoon," coach Urban Meyer said.
Meyer was referring to the torrential rains that swamped the last 20 minutes of the Buckeyes’ practice at Nova Southeastern University, playfully calling the reporters who scurried for cover in their cars "soft you-know-whats." But he could have been talking about the team’s star-crossed Orange Bowl trip.
The latest hit will keep star defensive end Noah Spence out for Friday’s game against Clemson and beyond. The Buckeyes’ sacks leader was suspended three games Wednesday for an unspecified Big Ten Conference violation.
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■ OSU quarterback Braxton Miller plans to announce his stay-or-go decision within a week of Friday’s Orange Bowl, but he remains coy on his intentions. Offensive coordinator Tom Herman wouldn’t throw reporters a bone, either. "Probably not the right time for me to talk about that," he said. "We've had talks, and we'll continue to have those talks." Juniors have until Jan. 15 to enter the NFL draft.
■ Among the visitors to OSU’s practice were Nick Bosa, the younger — and possibly even more touted — brother of five-star freshman defensive end Joey Bosa and one of his high school’s assistant coaches. You might have heard of him. Hall of Fame receiver and former Buckeyes star Cris Carter helps when he can at Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the nation’s top prep powerhouses. "I can’t say it because Joey will get mad, but the little brother might be better than Joey," Carter said. "He’s the best player on our team and he’s a sophomore." The boys’ father, John Bosa, an All-American defensive end at Boston College and a first-round pick by the Dolphins in 1987, said earlier this year Joey "thinks his brother will follow his footsteps" at OSU. As for whether Carter will steer Nick to Columbus, he laughed and asked the inquisitor, "What, are you with the NCAA?"
■ Clemson’s last trip to the Orange Bowl became known as the "Mugging in Miami" — a 70-33 loss to West Virginia in 2012 that got then-defensive coordinator Kevin Steele shown the door. Needless to say, the Tigers are searching for a better ending this time. "It was definitely disappointing a couple of years ago," linebacker Spencer Shuey said. "But I feel like this is a completely different team. We're definitely looking forward to getting the opportunity to redeem ourselves in the Orange Bowl."
— David Briggs
A statement from Ohio State said Spence’s parents, Greg and Helen, disagreed with the rules violation and were assisted by the university in exhausting the Big Ten’s appeals process.
The Columbus Dispatch reported Spence used an unapproved dietary supplement, citing a high-level OSU source.
A Big Ten spokesman said the league had no comment, while a message left at the Spences’ home in Harrisburg, Pa., went unreturned.
Meyer said he felt Spence had a strong case and was "disappointed that the appeal didn’t go through."
"Noah is one of my favorite guys," he said. "Sometimes things happen in life that you have to move on from. Football teaches you that. A lot of things teach you that. You've got to move forward, but I love that kid. He’s a 3.0-plus student. ... Great family, great person."
It is unclear if Spence’s penalty is related to the recent suspension of Michigan State all-Big Ten linebacker Max Bullough, who was held out of Wednesday’s Rose Bowl for no given reason.
The Big Ten tested all Ohio State and MSU players for performance-enhancing drugs before the Spartans’ 34-24 win in last month’s conference championship game. OSU also randomly tests athletes for both street drugs and PEDs.
Asked if he was allowed to reveal the nature of the violation, Meyer said, "I can do whatever I want to do, but I’m not going to."
Spence, an all-conference selection who finished second in the league with eight sacks and had 14 1/2 tackles for a loss, will practice with the Buckeyes in the spring and summer before returning for their Sept. 13 game against Kent State. OSU’s first two games are at Navy in Baltimore and home against Virginia Tech.
Meyer said sophomore Jamal Marcus and junior Steve Miller will rotate in place of Spence.
Wednesday’s news continued an ill-fated week for OSU, coming on top of the flu bug that continues to spread among the team — tight end Jeff Heuerman missed practice Wednesday — and injuries to two other defensive starters.
While linebacker Curtis Grant should be fine, Meyer said junior cornerback Bradley Roby will miss Friday’s game with a bone bruise to his knee, meaning the former All-American has played his final game at OSU. Roby has already announced his intentions to enter the NFL draft.