National champions has a nice ring to it.
The Augusta State University men's golf team received their dazzling Division I championship rings in a banquet ceremony Thursday night at the school's fieldhouse, before an appreciative and appreciated throng of 1,100 supporters.
Coach Josh Gregory -- national collegiate golf coach of the year -- also generously shared some rings with other longtime staffers and backers of the program here.
The Jaguars' unprecedented, jaw-dropping defeat of major-college powerhouses Georgia Tech, Florida State and Oklahoma State to win the NCAA championship the first week of June was no doubt the high point for this by-the-shoestrings Division II school -- but Thursday's unveiling of the championship banner was right up there too. It's a night ASU alumni, boosters, faculty and students will never forget.
And the fuss is far from over: It's on to the White House Sept. 13 -- and a lunch sometime this fall with the chairman at Augusta National Golf Club.
Nor may the team's accomplishments be at an end: All five starters are returning.
It's clear the Jags are blown away by the Augusta community's enthusiasm for their accomplishment: They expected maybe a few hundred well-wishers when they envisioned the ring-and-banner dinner on the way home from their victory at Ooltewah, Tenn., in June. What they got was 1,100 people packing the Christenberry Fieldhouse floor -- and perhaps elevating this program to an even higher level for the future.
Golf is a gentleman's sport, and these kids have done the sport, not just Augusta, proud. Minutes after scaling the national championship peak in Tennessee, these young men were paying tribute in media interviews to players and coaches who built the ASU program into what it is. That is both class and poise: the class to give a shout-out to those whose shoulders they stand on today, and the poise to even think of doing it.
That, too, had a nice ring to it.