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A Stroke of Inspiration
Rick Reilly
May 23, 2005
Once every comet or so, somebody in sports does something so brain-boggling that you drop your spoon in your raisin bran, fall over backward in your chair and scream to the Saint Bernard, "I'll be dog-damned!"
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May 23, 2005

A Stroke Of Inspiration

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Here's something stranger: Even the parents back Brogden. "When we first heard about it, we were kinda mad," said Tulsa golfer Sam Korbe's dad, Greg. "But once we heard the situation and thought about it, we were really proud of him."

"It was kind of a bummer," says Sam, the team's best player and a 3.8 student. "We'd been working so hard all spring, and we wanted to win it so bad. But I know it's the best thing overall for us. I admire Coach for what he did. A lot of coaches would have cared only about the sports half of our lives."

Now, wait: Don't paint Brogden as some feel-good New Age gym coach. This guy wants to win the way moles want to dig. He's won 14 conference titles in his 36-year career and coached 22 All-Americas, including PGA Tour regular Bill Glasson. In fact, Brogden tried to leave Louisiana with his integrity and the title.

He and SMU coach Jay Loar agreed to share the championship so Tulsa could catch that plane. But into every logical, happy solution a bureaucrat must fall, and WAC assistant director of championships Joe Menaugh had his boxers in a bunch over the idea.

"You can't do that," Menaugh sniffed, according to Brogden. "There's no provision in the bylaws for that. We have to declare a winner."

So it was a choice: tests or title?

Two Tulsa and two SMU players had already hit their drives. Three more golfers on each team were waiting on the 18th tee box when Brogden turned and said firmly, "We're outta here."

The four sets of Tulsa players' parents on site were shocked. "What in the world are we doing?" one asked.

"Packin' and goin'," Brogden explained.

Most every coach you've ever heard of would've stayed and played. Know how you know? Because when the Tulsa professors heard about Brogden's decision, they almost swallowed their pipes. "That was a very courageous act," says math prof William Hamill, who gave Korbe his Calculus III final the next morning. "I've never seen that before. I've never even heard of that."

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