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December 3, 2013

Column: Hall forever linked to Big House meltdown

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Marcus Hall is famous and it's for all the wrong reasons.

After being deservedly and swiftly ejected for slinging punches during an in-game melee against arch rival Michigan, the Ohio State guard defiantly saluted the Big House and all 113,511 of the people in it by chucking up two middle fingers as he furiously exited the field.

Of course, because of the internet and television, Hall really flipped off the entire world.

Now, he and his parting shot will live forever and ever and ever in infamy and it might forever be synonymous with the fifth-year senior's legacy as a Buckeye.

That's a shame.

"I can speak for him on his behalf that he is distraught and completely just wiped out and feels so bad about what he did," said senior center Corey Linsley, who might know Hall better than most.

"And it was in the heat of the moment and we've all done things in the heat of the moment that we regret."

That's true. While Hall is solely responsible for an obscene lapse in judgment, his misguided interpretation of a Miley Cyrus music video shouldn't define with a course that was previously marked by a seemingly drastic inversion in character and subsequent behavior.

His coaches, like Urban Meyer and offensive line coach Ed Warinner, point to Hall -- who had to redshirt the 2010 season after being placed on academic probation -- as a product of a system that changed him.

"When I look at the names -- we were doing it today getting ready for Senior Day -- you look at the transitions. I look at Marcus Hall. To think that those guys have developed, I go fight for those guys," Meyer said before Hall and 18 other seniors played their last game in Ohio Stadium against Indiana on Nov. 23.

Warinner offered a similar sentiment weeks earlier.

"The most improved guy we have right now on the offensive line in terms of this season," he said of Hall on Oct. 21.

"He's in a good place right now physically and mentally. When people are in a good place physically and mentally, life is good."

And Linsley is telling Hall, who apologized through his Twitter account, @bigmarc79, Sunday, that life is still good.

"After the game, I sat in the locker room and waited for him after he had a talk with coach and he was just a loss of words and said he couldn't believe it, 'Everything was going right in my life right now,'" Linsley said.

"I was like, 'Woah dude, it's just football man it's not like your life is off track now.'"

He's right -- Hall's spectacularly inane exit from Michigan Stadium is a rather large screw up, but doesn't suddenly and totally invalidate the apparent growth of the 6-foot-5, 315-pound guard on the field, in the classroom or out and about the city of Columbus.

It's not a blip on the radar but it's not an irreversible debacle either.

What doesn't help is that Hall's brief relapse into former ways will eternally loop in the form of Vines and GIFs. It's even been turned into a capitalistic venture and made into at least two different T-shirts.

While Hall, who has unsurprisingly not been made available for interviews since the incident, is a key cog in an offensive line helping Ohio State average 48 points and 531 total yards, he'll carry with him the stigma of being the guy who got ejected for punching another guy, throwing his helmet, kicking a bench before emphatically giving Ann Arbor, Mich., a firm two-finger salute. That's not to say Hall's legacy is tarnished nor should it be.

He's an integral part of a Buckeyes team that's won 24-straight games and could end up with even finer memories in the coming months.

But he'll still be known as the guy who flipped off the Big House for a long, long time.



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