COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer is expecting better behavior from his Ohio State team, and anybody who gets ejected for fighting this year against rival Michigan could face an even harsher penalty from the Buckeyes coach.
"He wants the game to be very intense, but if anybody throws any punches this year, we're dismissed," linebacker Curtis Grant said. "You know he pretty much put it out there [Sunday], so there's no telling what will happen if you get into a fight this year. We've got to be on our best behavior."
Dismissal from a game for fighting is automatic from game officials, something Ohio State running back Dontre Wilson and offensive guard Marcus Hall both found out after a second-quarter melee marred last year's game against Michigan.
Hall missed the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State because of a suspension, a matchup the Buckeyes lost to snap a 24-game winning streak and fall out of position to play for the national title.
Grant seemed to be referring to the in-game disqualification, but with Meyer making it clear during his first team meeting this week that he would have no tolerance for extracurricular activity, the punishment from the program could be severe and long-lasting as well.
"I had a talk with our team about that, and absolutely no case for that," Meyer said. "Intensity? Absolutely. There's a certain mentality we need to take to this field, but that's not acceptable.
"That's not the way we play the game, and I think a lot of lessons were learned. We went without one of our key linemen in the [conference] championship game the following week, and we played a game without two or three good players. That was a very strong conversation in the team meeting."
The message about amping up the intensity has been delivered consistently as well, with LL Cool J's song "It's Time for War" playing on a constant loop in the practice facility -- and highlight videos that actually show footage of some famous fights from past editions of "The Game" aren't hard to find, either.
That can send a mixed signal to the Buckeyes, but they are being reminded of the danger of crossing the line as well.
"We lost guys in that game, and we lost Marcus Hall for the Big Ten championship because of raging emotions," senior Michael Bennett said. "The biggest thing is to make sure that you play with emotion, but you don't let that trickle over and you [don't] throw a punch and jeopardize your teammates.
"We have to learn how to control that kind of stuff, channel that emotion that goes into that game because everybody wants to be in that next highlight video fighting somebody, but that doesn't help anybody. It's a fake tough-guy thing."