The Sock 'Em, Bust 'Em Board Because that's our custom

Happy Anniversary, Marvin Graves

Could it already be 15 years since Syracuse quarterback Marvin Graves triggered a fourth-quarter brawal that, in the minds of many, contributed directly to a West Virginia loss and a 20-17 victory for the Orangemen? (Yes, they were once the Orangemen.)

Among the many? WVU Coach Don Nehlen.

There seems to be no debating the particuars of the situation, specifically that Graves started the fight. Seriously, check the headline in the New York Times. The story was as direct.

The fisticuffs broke out after Graves had been tackled hard while running out of bounds for a first down at the Orange 28 with 3:39 left to play and Syracuse trailing by 17-13. Graves Touches Off Melee

Graves lost his temper and threw the ball at the tackler, cornerback Tommy Orr. Within seconds, dozens of athletes began to swing and claw at one another. When peace was restored, the officiating crew headed by Referee John Soffey ejected three West Virginia defensive regulars — Collins, end Tom Briggs and nickel back Leroy Axem.

The ejected Orangeman was Ken Warren, an obscure substitute lineman. Graves received a 5-yard penalty for throwing the ball.

Graves proceeded to take his team down the field to victory, aided considerably by a pass-interference penalty against West Virginia after the Syracuse quarterback had thrown an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Nehlen, his players and his fans remained incensed and let the Big East office know about it in volumes. Conference commissioner Mike Tranghese finally relented and admitted an officiating error.

“If there were to be ejections, Syracuse’s Marvin Graves needed to be included among those ejected,” Tranghese said. “Obviously, the ejections hurt West Virginia.”