By Dan Meyers
Eric McCarty was the kind of player his football coach looked for to fill the role of linebacker.
“Low-slung,” Coach Bill McCartney recalls of McCarty with a chuckle. “It was hard to knock him off his feet.”
But that was just the football side of it. McCartney also saw great things in McCarty as a person.
“He had that combination of being genuinely humble and yet he had fresh fire every day. If you have humility without that fire they might not do that well. If you have the reverse, fire without humility, they will wear you out,” McCartney says. “Eric had this tremendous humility but it was coupled with extraordinary resolve. The way he excelled at CU, then the way he excelled in his medical career. He still has that same combination as he lives out his life.”
The coach remembers recruiting McCarty and other Colorado prospects in the 1980s: “That class ended up being significant in terms of turning around CU football.”
Take it from the coach who ended up with a 93-55-5 record in 13 years, and took the team to its first national football championship and nine bowl games.
McCarty started out with the offense as a fullback but the coach saw something else he could do even better.
“As a fullback he was good. When he moved to linebacker, he became really special. He was a ferocious competitor at linebacker. He has what you look for—he was strong, had speed and he was smart.”
McCartney says he became more than a coach with many of his players, including McCarty.
“It goes beyond football,” the coach says. “It’s a commitment you make for the rest of your lives. When I sit in someone’s living room [while recruiting] I tell them if you send your son to Colorado we will be a part of his life for the rest of his life. It’s a lifetime bond.”