More attention comes with match-play format

__TOLEDO--__There were several factors that led the NCAA men's D-I golf committee to decide to change to a match-play format to crown a national champion, not the least of which was to try to drum up more interest from the mainsteam media who didn't cover college golf on a regular basis. You might recall one coach using the example of trying to get the golf's Elite Eight or Final Four on ESPN's crawl, not unlike other lower profile sports (i.e. softball).

Well, I didn't see a mention of Arkansas beating Georgia or Texas A&M beating Michigan from yesterday's semifinal matches during last night's coverage of the Lakers/Nuggets game on ESPN (give it time coaches, give it time), but I do think the golf committee will be pleased with the exposure they're getting as a result of the format change.

Take for example this morning's Detroit Free Press, which ran a story about the end of the unranked Wolverines' run at Inverness Club. Had it not been for the building momentum that Michigan generated by playing well in each round of stroke play earlier in the week, thus creating a storyline for how this underdog squad was vying to steal a spot in the Elite Eight, I don't think the media attention would have followed.

By the time U of M coach Andrew Sapp's squad had moved to the semifinals, there were TV crews coming down from Ann Arbor and Detroit (granted both cities are less than an hour from Toledo) to document Michigan's run.

Had the Wolverine been in sixth place entering a fourth day of stroke play competition--as would have been the case this week if the format hadn't changed--they would have been 19 strokes behind leader Oklahoma State with virtually no shot of winning the title ... and no accompanying press attention. (Definitely no TV crews.)

So now Sapp can use this week as a major stepping stone in building his program, as can both the Razorbacks and Aggies whether they win or lose this afternoon.

At the risk of sounding like the message from an after-school special, let me just say this: They'll crown a national champion later today, but with the implementation of match play I genuinely believe there will be more than one school that wins this week.