UW Notebook | Ex-Husky McCarthy returns as an LSU assistant
Receivers coach had memorable TD catch in 1993 comeback win at Cal.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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It's a memory that only gets better with age, and one that will flare anew for D.J. McCarthy this weekend, even if he comes to Husky Stadium this time as the enemy, now employed as the receivers coach at LSU.
"The older I get, the closer I get to catching the winning touchdown," laughs McCarthy of a reception he made for the Huskies in a comeback win against Cal in 1993. Instead, McCarthy caught a TD that brought UW within six points of a game it ended up winning in Berkeley 24-23 after trailing 23-3 late in the third quarter.
Despite all else that happened in that game, many Husky fans remember it largely for McCarthy's catch, in part because he was such an unlikely hero. He was a 5-foot-9, 165-pound walk-on from Boca Raton, Fla., who played two years at a junior college in California before transferring to UW in 1991. He played sparingly in 1992 and had only four catches in 1993 before being thrust into duty against the Bears and spearheading one of the more remarkable comebacks in UW history. His diving 29-yard catch brought UW to within 23-17 with just over two minutes left and the Huskies then recovered an onside kick to set up the winning drive.
"That was a national TV game so everybody back home in Florida got a chance to see my catch and see me live the dream," he said.
He still is. He says he was first pushed into coaching as a senior in 1993 by then UW assistant Dick Baird, who is now a radio commentator for KJR-AM. He played in the Arena League for a few years following UW then got into coaching. One big break came in 2000 when he was hired at Nevada by another former UW assistant, Chris Tormey. He was WR coach on the 2003 day when the Wolf Pack came to Husky Stadium and dealt UW one of its most embarrassing losses.
From there he went to Central Florida and it was during that tenure he interviewed for a job at Oregon with Ducks offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. He didn't get it, but in 2006 ended up at UCLA. In 2007, when Crowton had moved to LSU, he remembered McCarthy and that connection led to a job with the Tigers — McCarthy says he's never had an interview with the Huskies.
Saturday will mark his third return to UW and he said it's definitely still something that still resonates, calling Washington "my second home." It's also where he met his wife, Trisha Kubota, who was a gymnast for the Huskies. The couple now have three sons.
As the resident Huskies expert on the LSU staff, he's been called on for lots of advice this week on what to expect.
"I tell them that we play in the SEC, but that Husky Stadium is the closest thing you are going to see to the SEC in the Pac-10," McCarthy said.
• UW officials said Tuesday that about 2,200 tickets remain for Saturday's game, including about 1,500 restricted view.
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UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies