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INDIANAPOLIS — Turns out, Ohio State’s Marcus Hall will face further punishment.
While the nation debates whether Hall should have been suspended for his obscene gesture to the Michigan Stadium crowd last weekend, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said the senior guard will not start today’s Big Ten championship game.
"Other than that, we'll see what happens," he said.
Meyer again said he was "very, very disappointed" in Hall while teammates threw their support behind the second-year starter, saying they hope one mindless moment does not define a career. Hall and freshman receiver Dontre Wilson, along with Michigan backup linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone, were ejected during the second-quarter scrum in OSU’s 42-41 win at Michigan. The Big Ten issued Hall a public reprimand but no suspension.
Redshirt freshman Pat Elflein will start in Hall’s place.
"We’re all still behind [Hall],” senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said. “We’re a brotherhood. He messed up, but we’ll move forward from it.”
Center Corey Linsley said Hall, who apologized on Twitter for his actions, was "distraught and completely wiped out" in the hours after his lapse.
"I sat in the locker room and waited for him after he talked with [Meyer], and he was at a loss for words and said he couldn’t believe it," Linsley said. "He said, ‘Everything was going right in my life.’ I said, ‘Whoa, dude. It’s just football. It’s not like your life is off track now.’ I think we all did an OK job of bringing him back.”
AWARDS SEASON: OSU quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde were announced Friday as finalists — along with Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland — for the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football Award.
Miller, a two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year, is in line to become just the fourth player to twice capture the newspaper’s league MVP honors.
Also repeating were Ohio State running back Archie Griffin (1973-74), Indiana running back Anthony Thompson (1988-89), and Minnesota quarterback Paul Giel (1952-53).
The winner will be announced Dec. 12.
NEW WRINKLE: Ohio State used part of the week to polish up its ... field goal coverage unit?
While the Buckeyes jubilantly watched Auburn stun then-No. 1 Alabama on a last-second 109-yard field goal return, Meyer and coaches everywhere had a revelation: They had never practiced that scenario.
“I’m embarrassed to say no,” Meyer said. “We’ve discussed it before, but to say we practice it every week, that’s incorrect. You can be sure we will cover that.”
Not that practice will make perfect. The field goal unit would still be filled with the offensive linemen needed to fend off kick blockers.
"You still have 320-pound men running down the field trying to tackle an athlete,” Meyer said. “That’s a very unique situation. Yeah, we’ll cover it, but I’m still not sure what to tell the big boys to do. We don’t have time to teach them how to tackle. That’s a very unique situation that Auburn took advantage of.”
EXTRA POINTS: Meyer said he blasted the heat at the Buckeyes’ indoor practices this week to replicate the "stuffy" dome conditions. OSU is 15-5 all-time in domes, including its 2011 Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas at the Superdome in New Orleans. ... The Buckeyes are vying for their 35th Big Ten championship. ... Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said he still keeps in regular touch with former OSU coach Jim Tressel. "I don’t know if he'll have green on tomorrow night," said Dantonio, the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator from 2001-03. "But maybe." ... Meyer said linebacker Curtis Grant (ankle) practiced this week and is expected to return today, though he still has "some wobble."