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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

November 08, 2001|Larry Stewart

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

What: "Life's a Joke"

Author and publisher: Jack Fertig

Price: $9.95

Jack Fertig, former USC assistant basketball coach under George Raveling and currently director of basketball operations at Fresno State, is a noted public speaker. He's also a funny man.

Fertig, with 32 years of experience at nine Division I institutions, has put together a collection of his favorite stories. Most in the 225-page, self-published paperback should bring a smile.

Fertig is no relation to former USC quarterback and assistant football coach Craig Fertig. Jack is Jewish, Craig is Irish. But they share a similar sense of humor. The book opens with a short anecdote about a Tennessee player who visited a gift shop in Anchorage, Alaska, and asked, "Do you take American money?"

That sets up a story Fertig got from Fresno State sports information director Steve Weakland, who came to Fresno from the University of Alaska at Anchorage. Weakland told Fertig about a Big 12 athletic director who, after his school was invited to the Great Alaska Shootout, declined because "we've already used our foreign exemption."

One year when Fertig was at USC, the Trojans played in a holiday tournament at West Palm Beach, Fla. At the airport, an elderly lady asked a player what time it was. "I'm sorry, my watch is on California time," he said.

A longer story is about former Trojan Yamen Sanders. Fertig convinced him to block out on the offensive board in a game against UCLA by telling him that missed shots were designed plays to go to him.

Sanders bought it, and USC beat the Bruins.

To order the book: (559) 307-3744.

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