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Twist of fate lands golf coach south of expected destination



Good timing can never be underestimated.

It often effects lives and careers, and can be a factor in determining potential success.


In Ryan Hybl's case, Joe Castiglione's timing could not have been more perfect, at least where the University of Oklahoma is concerned.

And it worked out pretty well for Hybl, too, who made the leap from assistant coach to head coach thanks to a well-timed phone call.

"I could not be more excited," exclaimed Hybl, a few days after accepting Castiglione's offer to become the 13th head men's golf coach at OU.

"Oklahoma is a place where I think you can really build something special."

Just a few weeks ago, it looked as if Hybl would land in Stillwater instead of Norman, making the transition from assistant men's golf coach at the University of Georgia to assistant coach at Oklahoma State University. The Cowboys had been after Hybl for some time, initially recruiting him to play when he was the No. 1-ranked junior golfer in the country back in 1999, and then twice courting him to join their golf staff.

In fact, Hybl was in Stillwater and had just finished interviewing with OSU athletics director Mike Holder and golf coach Mike McGraw " and unofficially agreed to accept the assistant's job " when his cell phone rang.

It was Castiglione. And he had even bigger plans for the Georgia native.

"I have to admit it was a unique and somewhat awkward situation. Oklahoma State is a great school with a great golf tradition and I felt there was a good opportunity for me there," said the 28-year-old Hybl. "But OU offered me exactly what I was looking for " a head coaching job at a program with all kinds of potential.

"Fortunately for me, I have a great relationship with both Coach Holder and Coach McGraw, and they were understanding of the situation and what my ultimate goal was. And I appreciate that."

McGraw said Hybl would have been an excellent addition to the OSU program, considering his talents as both a player and coach " and admitted he was disappointed the Cowboys missed out on hiring him.

"Of course, Ryan would have been a great addition to our staff. That's why we'd been after him for a while," explained McGraw. "But when a major university comes along and offers you a head coaching job, well, that's a no-brainer.

"OU definitely got a good one."

Hybl was already quite familiar with OU and its reputation in collegiate athletics. His older brother, Nate Hybl, was a quarterback for the Sooners from 2000-02 and was the 2003 Rose Bowl MVP when he led them to a 34-14 win over Washington State.

So Hybl had been to Norman a few times to watch his brother play, and he had also been recruited by to play golf at OU by former coach Gregg Grost.

"Nate paved a good path for me to Norman. What he did here in the past, and the kind of person he is, I believe allowed me to get a shot in the interview process," said Hybl, a former two-time All-American at Georgia who later helped guide his alma mater's program to five straight Top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships.

Maybe big brother's OU legacy factored into the equation, but it is Ryan Hybl's history that was the determining component.

"Ryan Hybl's passion for golf and his experience at its highest level as both a player and coach make this an exciting time for our men's golf program," said Castiglione. "We have matched unbridled enthusiasm with an impressive knowledge of the game, and we're very encouraged about our future. Ryan understands that having a great program means developing student-athletes on every level. He took that approach as himself as a player and he has done so in his coaching assignments.

"That's the reason he enjoys such tremendous respect nationally."

That's one area where OU's golf program has suffered lately. Once considered a perennial power that consistently produced great players like Andrew Magee, Grant Waite, Glen Day, Doug Martin, Patrick Lee, Grant Masson and Hunter Haas " the Sooners have undoubtedly underachieved over the last decade.

When Jim Ragan resigned at the end of the 2009 spring season, Castiglione went to work looking for someone who could not only breath life back into the program, but make it a contender once again.

"We have to change the perception here, to some degree. We've got to make sure we do our best to keep the best in-state talent here, as well as go out and recruit the best players nationally," added Hybl.

"The support I have received here these first few weeks has been overwhelmingly positive " from the university, the administration, past players and everybody, really.

"I believe this is a great opportunity and I'm excited about the future." "Jay C. Upchurch


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