Coaches reunite in Boulder

Friday, October 27th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) _ After sharing the same sideline as assistant coaches at Colorado, Gary Barnett and Bob Simmons can always chat about the good old days.

Their nostalgic flashbacks undoubtedly beat discussing current events.

In his second season as Colorado's head coach, Barnett has endured one of the most disappointing seasons of his coaching career, and Simmons has fared only slightly better in his sixth season at Oklahoma State.

The two will square off as opposing head coaches for the first time Saturday when Oklahoma State (2-4, 0-3 Big 12) tries to snap a four-game losing streak against the bumbling Buffs (1-6, 1-3).

``I really have not thought about it from an emotional standpoint,'' Simmons said of his second trip to Boulder since he left for Oklahoma State in 1995. ``To be realistic, my emotions are just wrapped up into my football team and trying to get better.''

Barnett and Simmons, assistants under Bill McCartney from 1988 to 1991, played golf together in Colorado this summer. The outing probably seems like decades ago _ particularly for Barnett, who has seen his team's health and morale deteriorate weekly.

``We don't have any identity right now on offense and defense,'' he said. ``The early part of the season really damaged our confidence. Now we're a team that's playing without a lot of confidence.''

Confidence was rarely a problem when Barnett and Simmons shared strategies in Colorado. In their four seasons, the Buffs went 38-9-2, won a national title in 1990 and never lost two straight games. Colorado and Oklahoma have a combined 3-10 record this year.

``When you think of the time that I spent there with Bill and with Gary, I really enjoyed that time because it was special for us all,'' Simmons said. ``When you can do that and win a national championship in the process, you really have fond memories.''

Saturday's game is not likely to inspire championship images, but it could prove entertaining thanks to a matchup of freshman quarterbacks.

Colorado's Craig Ochs needs 201 yards to break Koy Detmer's freshman passing record of 962 yards in 1992, and Aso Pogi set Oklahoma State's single-game freshman mark with 328 yards in his first start two weeks ago.

Pogi was pressed into duty after a season-ending shoulder injury to Tony Lindsay.

``We think he's going to be a really special young man,'' Simmons said. ``He's got great size. Aso says he's about 220 (pounds) but he may be about 230. He's got a strong arm. He spends a lot of time studying film. His future is very bright.''

Ochs, who started the season as a possible redshirt candidate, has not left the starting lineup since his debut four weeks ago. The Buffs still believe he gives them the best chance to end the season on a positive note.

Barnett this week called on his juniors to take a more active leadership role in hopes of building a solid foundation for 2001.

``I want to make sure everybody keeps their head up,'' junior tight end Daniel Graham said. ``We still have four more games. We can't go out there thinking about losing a game. It is all about winning.''

The Cowboys, who have lost eight of nine to Colorado and have not won in Boulder since 1988, also are trying to make the best of a bad situation. Unlike the Buffs, Oklahoma State can still finish the season with a winning record.

``It's almost a shame that we're not undefeated right now with the amount of talent we have,'' Cowboys defensive tackle Sean Barry said. ``That goes to show you that talent alone doesn't get the job done. You have to have execution.''

Injuries have hindered Colorado's search for consistency. Tailbacks Marcus Houston (hip flexor) and Cortlen Johnson (shoulder, toe) will not play Saturday, and the offensive line has been a patchwork production because of various health problems.