Be careful of those late night snacks
Once a college basketball team arrives at its destination city and checks into the hotel rooms, it's usually customary for the trainer to get a pizza for each pair of players in a room since the food on the plane hardly satisfied the players' appetites. The team would be in their rooms for the night and the trainer would go around delivering the pizzas.
One time, he knocked on the door and when the player opened it, the trainer handed him a cheese pizza. The guy looked at the pizza and told the trainer, "I'm allergic to cheese. Do you have pepperoni or sausage?"
Unfair recruiting advantage
Aftre I left the University of Oregon to become a full time assistant, I remember calling back to my old boss, Dick Harter, and asking him how recruiting was going, especially the young prospect who went to high school right there in Eugene, a kid named Danny Ainge.
He told me, "Jack, you wouldn't believe it. You know how he would always come and play with our guys in the gym. We thought we had him locked up. We had a great relationship with him. Our guys liked him; he liked our guys. We were right in town. His family could see him play.
"One day last week, he came into my office and said, 'Coach, you know I'm a Mormon. Well, the Lord told me to go to BYU.'"
Dick claimed he was going to turn BYU into the NCAA for using an illegal recruiter.
A near perfect score
Back in the late '80s at Western Carolina, we were a school with a really small budget, not only in athletics but the entire university. As a matter of fact, the bowling alley had four lanes and did not have electric pin spotters. Half of the PE class would bowl, the other half would be spotting pins.
One of the assistant football coaches, a guy named Bobby Pate, an absolutely great guy, was one of the bowling instructors. Our offices in basketball, at that time, were in the same building as the bowling alley. Occasionally, Bobby would stop by before or after class.
One day at the end of the semester, Bobby came in after his class. He had a long face and I could tell something was bothering him.
I said, "Bobby, what's the matter?"
He said, "Jack, do you remember the girl I told you about in our class who was just an awful bowler?"
I said, "Oh yeah, Bobby, that's the girl you said who knocked down about two pins the entire semester."
He replied, "Yeah, she was terrible at bowling, but on the written tests, she aced them all."
I commented, "What's the problem with that? Some people just don't have athletic ability."
He said, "Well, there's really no problem, but when I gave her a grade, I felt like I did her a favor because she aced the written tests but as far as the bowling part, nearly every one of her shots for the semester ended up in the gutter. So, I gave her a B."
I said, "Bobby, what's wrong with that? That seems fair."
He told me, "Jack, she never told me this but I found out from someone in the class that she's a senior, is graduating next week and that's the only B she has in four years here at Western Carolina. I kept her from a perfect 4.0 GPA.
"Years from now, when she's highly successful, somebody's going to ask her what her grade point average was in college and she's going to say, 'I missed a perfect 4.0 by one grade. I got a B in bowling,' and the person's going to say, 'What idiot gave you that?'"
I said, "Aw, Bobby, don't worry about it. She'll get over it."
He looked at me and said, "Jack, I'm not worried about her. I'm worried about me."
Jack Fertig has worked for a lot of coaches --- George Raveling, Dick Harter, Don
DeVoe and Jerry Tarkanian, among them --- who believe he has a pretty good
grasp of what it takes to help run a college basketball program in an efficient, and
He can wax philosophical for hours on end about match-up zone defenses or
motion offenses, defensive stances or offensive footworkâ€¦
And one more thing:
He's in the upper tier of the wittiest people I've met and known in my life.
And I'm not referring to just the coaches and athletes I've met in the 28 years I've
written about sports for a living, either. The guy is flat out, hands down funny.
And not in just that "he can remember a lot of jokes and repeat them, verbatim"
Jack can find the humor --- and irony, even if they are not one and the same at a
particular moment --- in almost any setting.
And I'm not referring strictly to the basketball world, either.
I doubt that Jack would ever have altered the path his career has taken. Well, I'm
sure he'd like to be running his own college basketball program somewhere --- for
all of the college athletic directors or presidents glued to this foreword right now.
But I think he's missed a higher calling.
He could have been a dazzling political speech writer or cranked out some
marvelous monologues and one-liners for some of the stale talk show hosts who
litter our afternoons and late nights.Hey, it's politics' and television's loss.
Instead, his stage has more often than not been the bleaches in a gymnasium or a
telephone, from where he can tell some absolutely wicked stories about some of
the things he's experienced, coaches he's worked with and players he's recruited
and coached during his 30+ years in college basketball.
And now his newest stage is the book you're about to read.
Some of the stuff you'll see in these pages is so wickedly funny and off-the-wall that
you'll wonder when someone will try to adapt it to the big screen.
Mentally cast the movie yourself.
I don't think Jack will mind my suggesting, say, Tom Hanks for the role of the
basketball coach who always seems to find a sense of balance --- and humor --- in
a world inhibited by a cast of characters that any Hollywood screenwriter would
struggle to conjure up on his own.
But Jack's lived it. And now he's about to tell us about it.
And no one could make this stuff up.
To order your copy of Life's A Joke:
Send a Check or Money Order
for $13.00 per book (includes tax, shipping and handling)
or $5.00 per book if you order 20 or more
made out to: Jack Fertig
and mail it to:
Life's A Joke
365 Sandpiper Court
Fresno, CA 93730
Want to read what publications and other individuals have said about Jack's book
"Life's A Joke" Click Here> Testimonials