Augusta State’s NCAA title was no upset
Augusta State coach Josh Gregory and Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw discuss the final match at NCAAs.
OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – Walking near the scoreboard area, waiting for the trophy presentation, I kept hearing the word “upset” as spectators referred to Augusta State’s 3-1-1 victory over Oklahoma State at The Honors Course.
Many of those saying it were wearing the blue and white of Augusta State.
That was my initial reaction as well. But the more I thought about it, the more I questioned just how much of an upset it really was. Or better yet, was it an upset at all?
Strictly looking at each program’s history, tradition and success in this championship, yes, it was a big-time upset.
Augusta State has an enrollment of just more than 7,000 and competes in Division II in all sports except men’s and women’s golf. This was the Jaguars’ 11th NCAA appearance, and their previous best showing was a fifth in 2002.
Oklahoma State, on the other hand, has more than 32,000 students and for more than six decades its golf program has been the model of success. This was the record 64th consecutive NCAA appearance for the Cowboys, who have won 10 national titles and now have 29 top-3 finishes.
Still, the Jaguars were hardly “just” some team that crawled out of the woodwork for this final week of the 2009-10 college golf season.
They beat Oklahoma State, a team that has been No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings all season. Augusta State has produced a formidable national program for years and was making its sixth NCAA finals appearance since 2000.
The Jaguars have not been a hunk of chopped liver this season.
Augusta State, No. 8 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings, came into the NCAA Championship holding down the No. 5 spot. At one point this spring, the Jags were No. 2, just behind the Cowboys.
After opening the season with a 10th-place finish at the Brickyard and a sixth at the Gary Koch, Augusta State has not finished out of the top 5. Its NCAA victory was its fourth title of the season.
Coach Josh Gregory would tout his squad as an underdog all season, even though he admitted “these guys never felt like underdogs.”
Now Gregory is going to have a tough sell trying to convince anyone his Jaguars are underdogs, especially next season when he returns each of the five players who produced the school’s first national golf championship.
As Gregory put it in the afterglow of victory, “These guys proved we’re one of the big boys now.”
Yes, Josh, and right now you are the biggest of the big.
Upset? What upset?