IT NEVER fails.
Every football season, West Virginia plays Syracuse.
And every season his name pops up because of an incident that happened between the teams almost 18 years to this day.
You may think Mr. Grinch was vile. That he had termites in his smile and the sweetness of a crocodile. In West Virginia, though, he was Cindy Lou Who compared to Graves.
The teams were playing in Morgantown that Oct. 17 in 1992. WVU held the lead late, but SU was driving. Graves, then the quarterback at Syracuse, was run out of bounds, but then touched off a bench-clearing brawl by throwing the ball at the head of Mountaineer cornerback Tommy Orr.
With 3:33 remaining in the game, four players were ejected for fighting - three from WVU (end Tom Briggs, safety Mike Collins and cornerback Leroy Axem) and one from Syracuse (lineman Ken Warren). Graves was not tossed. He proceeded to lead the then-Orangemen to a game-winning 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Gedney with 51 ticks left in a 20-17 victory.
It did not sit well within the Mountain State. "I've been coaching for a long time but I don't think I've ever had one taken from me like that before,'' said WVU coach Don Nehlen that day. "It's a crime." He would repeat those last three words twice more in his brief post-game remarks.
The headline in the next day's Sunday Gazette-Mail: "Mountaineers robbed, Nehlen says."
There were other headlines to follow, like "Officials made three judgment errors, Big East says,'' and "[Syracuse coach Paul] Paqualoni insists WVU also at fault.''
The following August, however, there was another headline. One many forget. It read "Graves apologizes for sparking infamous brawl last October.'' And he did. "I apologize," Graves said. "If I had to do it over, I wouldn't do it."
Anyway, I started thinking about that day. And wondering. What the heck ever happened to Marvin Graves?
I not only found out; I reached him.
Graves is now the quarterbacks coach for The Catholic University of America, the national university of the Catholic church, in Washington, D.C., his hometown. The school is situated just north of Capitol Hill. The Cardinals play in the Division III Old Dominion Athletic Conference. They are 2-4 this season and play at Emory & Henry this Saturday.
So Graves is at a different station in life now. But he does remember that stop.
"I definitely do,'' he said with a laugh. "It's funny you called because one of my players here has been on me to bring in some of my old film. So I brought some in. I'm sitting in my office showing him some of the '92 highlight film when we beat Texas [31-21].
"It must be Syracuse day."