John Klein: TU's Bill Brogden is no stranger to NCAA Men's Golf Tournament
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
5/30/12 at 3:36 AM
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: Brogden is no stranger to NCAAs
There may not be any current college coach, in any sport, who can match the longevity and success of Tulsa's Bill Brogden.
Brogden has coached in the NCAA Men's Golf Tournament in six decades.
The Golden Hurricane is back in the NCAA Men's Golf Tournament, which opened Tuesday at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. It is TU's first trip back to the NCAAs in five years.
"I thought we were good enough to make this tournament, but we just didn't show it all season," said Brogden, now in his 43rd season as a college golf coach. "Then, all of the sudden, at the NCAA Regionals, we played like I thought we could.
"So, here we are. And, yes, it is just as exciting for me now as it was the first time I coached a team in the NCAAs."
Brogden's history of coaching in the NCAA Tournament dates to 1969, when he led Memphis State to the tournament.
He has subsequently taken LSU and Oral Roberts in the decade of the 1970s, ORU and TU in the 1980s, TU in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.
College golf has completely changed in the 43 years since Brogden got his start at Memphis State.
"But the winning hasn't changed," he said. "It is still great.
"Everything else about college golf has changed. Seriously, every aspect of the sport is different. So, over the years, I've had to make a few adjustments."
Brogden said how the game is played, and how the players are taught, are huge differences.
"I guess the equipment might be the biggest difference," Brogden said. "The equipment has changed the game for everyone. Then, the golf courses have changed, too. The golf courses are so much longer. The way the courses are maintained is so different.
"Plus, kids are different. By the time a player gets to me, he's usually had a lot of instruction. That wasn't always the case back in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s."
This has been one of Brogden's most surprising teams.
TU did not win a tournament this year and just one last season.
Then, as recently as the Conference USA tournament, the Golden Hurricane did not appear headed to the NCAAs.
Tulsa finished seventh in the C-USA tournament.
"It was a weird year," said Brogden. "We started out the year and I took the five guys that are in the NCAA Tournament to a tournament in San Antonio. We played terrible.
"So, we spent the year kind of juggling our lineup and trying to find one that would work. Then, we went back to that original five for the conference tournament and we played terrible again. So, we did it one more time at the regionals with those five guys, and that's why I wasn't very optimistic."
But, something happened at the regional. Tulsa slipped past No. 23 Duke by three shots for the fifth and final spot out of the regional to gain a slot in the 30-team NCAA Tournament.
"All year I felt like we had a good team, but we didn't play like it," Brogden said. "Sometimes a team will see the big picture all of the sudden and take off. That happened to us at the regionals. We finally saw the big picture and played well.
"Our league was very good this year (five ranked teams), and we just never got started. Then came the regionals. This is how it starts sometimes. It clicks and you build on it."
Brogden hopes the late-season surge could be similar to what happened at ORU when he was coaching there in the 1970s and 1980s.
ORU finished sixth in the NCAAs in 1978.
"We built on that first good season," Brogden said. "That's what I'm telling these guys. You have to start somewhere and then build.
"Maybe this is where we start with a great team at Tulsa."
ORU followed up the 1978 season by finishing third in the nation in 1979 and 1980. In 1981. ORU was ranked No. 1 much of the season and finished second.
"As much as things have changed in college golf, some things are still the same," Brogden said. "It is always tough to figure out a team's mojo. However, the same principles to win are the same today as they were when I started coaching.
"As a coach, I have to be sensitive to their needs. At the same time, the players have to be sensitive to the needs of their teammates."
Brogden said coaching college golf is pretty simple.
"It is all about the numbers," he said. "If you shoot the best number, you are going to play. If you don't feel like you are getting enough playing time, then shoot a better number.
"That part of the game has not changed. If you shoot the lowest number, you win."