- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.
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. There’s publicity, but at the end of the day we all know how bad it was, how bad it is -- obviously it hurt me. At this point I’m just trying to stay positive and move forward.”
For better or worse, it hasn’t taken long for Hall to learn there won’t be an escape from his legend. He’s just not content to let that be the only signature moment of his career down the road.
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