Zac's Homecoming

STILLWATER – If things had been a little bit different four years ago when he was a senior at Chatfield High School in Littleton, Colo., and Gary Barnett was not on the hot seat as the head coach at the University of Colorado, it's possible that Zac Robinson could be leading the Buffaloes – instead of the 11th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys – onto the field Saturday night.

Robinson, the starting quarterback for the Cowboys, was recruited by Barnett and his Colorado staff while he was earning All-State honors prior to his senior season in 2004. But Barnett was eventually fired after the 2005 season, and current head coach Dan Hawkins was hired as his replacement.

"The University of Colorado was definitely an option for me, and I could have seen myself going there," said Robinson, who has thrown for 2,264 yards and 20 touchdowns this season for the Cowboys, 8-2, entering Saturday evening's nationally televised showdown (ABC-TV) with the Buffaloes, 5-5 after last week's 28-24 victory over Iowa State.

But it probably worked out best for everyone involved that Robinson is now quarterbacking the Cowboys, and Cody Hawkins (the son of CU head coach Dan Hawkins) and Tyler Hansen are splitting the signal calling duties for the Buffaloes.

Robinson and his family, especially his mother, Myra, are definitely looking forward to Oklahoma State's trip to Colorado.

"It's definitely going to be a lot of fun. Ever since I signed (with Oklahoma State in February of 2005) I've looked forward to playing back in my home state, and now it's finally here," Robinson said Monday. "I'm definitely looking forward to playing in front of a lot of friends and family back in Colorado.

"My mom has been hyping it up ever since I signed which was four years ago. Now it's finally here. The whole season she's been giving people invitations to some party at our house… they're having a lot of fun with it. It's definitely going to be a fun time for our family."

Barnett was fired after the Buffaloes began the 2005 season 7-2 – including a 34-0 win over Oklahoma State in Mike Gundy's first year as head coach (and Robinson was a redshirt freshman) – but Colorado lost its last four games. The CU head coach's fate had probably already been decided because of off-the-field issues relating to Buffalo players, but it didn't help that they lost to Texas 70-3 in the Big 12 Championship game.

"They recruited me a lot. They offered me the summer before my senior year. They looked at me as a quarterback," said Robinson. "There was nothing against Colorado. I loved Coach Barnett, and it was Cooach (Shawn) Waston and Coach (Ted) Gilmore, who are at Nebraska now, who recruited me. They were great guys and did a great job of recruiting me. It was just the insecurity of not knowing what was going to happen to them after the season."

Robinson and the Cowboys have faced some tough challenges this season – playing on the road against teams the top three teams in the nation at the time they faced them in Missouri (No. 3), Texas (No. 1) and Texas Tech (No. 2). But traveling to Boulder to play a night game in November, with the possible distraction of playing just 35 minutes from where he grew up in Littleton, could be just as big of a challenge for the Cowboy quarterback.

"You've just got to treat it like a normal game, just like any other game," he said. "They do a lot of different things defensively, so I'll be focused on that. I'm just going to have to focus on what Colorado does. Obviously there's going to be a lot of other things going on but once the ball gets kicked off and we get rolling, it will be just like any other game."

At least that's what Cowboy fans are hoping.

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