The INIT: Solving college golf's postseason riddle
It’s occurred to me that we need another college tournament on the schedule. Let me explain: At the end of the year, the college golf season ends with the NCAA Championship. This year it will be held at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla. To get there, the 28 conference champions that earn an automatic qualifier, as well as the remaining 53 teams, first get to participate in a regional. After the six regionals, the top 30 teams move on to the national championship.
In college basketball there is the NIT and CIT. In college football there is a fill-in-the-blank.com bowl. But there is no secondary tournament for college golf. Hey, what’s another tournament?
What if the NCAA governed another tournament for 64 teams. We often hear that teams want a true match-play tournament, or medal match-play tournament. Well, why not for a couple of years create a tournament for the best of the rest?
Let’s take the teams that are ranked Nos. 82-146 and put them in a tournament called the INIT – Intercollegiate National Invitational Tournament. (OK, so the name may need some work.) Based on the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, an opening-round match would be the 1 seed Lousiana Tech, (ranked 82nd) taking on a 16 seed VCU (ranked 146th).
Mercer coach Andrew Tredway, whose team is ranked 111th, was open to the idea. “Sounds good if you can pull it off,” he said. “Only drawback would be the cost with teams having to travel.”
Don’t worry, Coach, I have a solution there as well. Let’s give this tournament four regionals, like March Madness. Teams can compete head-to-head in a match-play bracket to get to their regional championship. When we get the four, we can send them to a location for the national semifinal and tournament championship.
“It would be great to play those type of matches,” Tredway said. “It would be great for any team to get that kind of national-championship experience since that’s where we all strive to get each year.”
It seems the media, fans, players, coaches and anyone else associated with college golf has a reason to love or hate the format for the national championship. If one thing is certain, it’s that no one has the perfect way to determine who our champion should be at the end of the season.
For the next couple of years, let’s see the INIT. Let’s try, just one year, a true match play where each player on the team tries to score a point and take note. Then, in year 2 of the tournament, let’s do medal match play and take note. Next, in year 3, let’s do cumulative team score/head-to-head match play and take note once more. Let this secondary tournament be a test run for what could put an end to the endless debate of how we should handle the national championship.
This tournament also would do wonders for college golf. It could spread awareness of the sport across the country at different regionals, allow other teams a chance to win something, and even provide an arena to learn or think of things we never before tested.
Bottom line: It could be a lab rat that can provide data and results. After all, aren’t we tired of debating how the national championship should be decided? Shouldn’t the sport just have a final way, once and for all? Let’s get the ball rolling on the Intercollegiate National Invitational Tournament and see what happens. What’s the worst thing it could provide, another tournament on the schedule?
Give the INIT a chance so we can settle several debates, once and for all.