CAL STATE FULLERTON NOTEBOOK : Coach Likes Role in Reel--and Real--Life

Dan Lewis is not about to quit his day job as Cal State Fullerton's wrestling coach or his night job as bartender at the Cowboy Boogie Company in Anaheim to pursue an acting career.

The next Kevin Costner, he isn't.

But Lewis' recent venture into television-commercial acting has been like a ride on the wheel of fortune.

Lewis, at the request of a friend who had appeared in a commercial, auditioned for and landed a non-speaking role in an Olympic sponsorship commercial for Visa.

For Lewis, it was a case of art imitating life--he played a wrestling coach.

The spot has been running for about a month and will continue to air until the Summer Olympics. Each time the commercial plays, Lewis receives $97. He expects to net about $10,000 for his work, if you can call it that.

"It's ridiculous," Lewis said of the wages. "It's the best day's work I've ever done."

That job helped Lewis land another role as a wrestling coach, this time in a Jack-in-the-Box commercial that began airing in the West three weeks ago. But in this ad, the coach speaks.

"We will now demonstrate the toasted ravioli," Lewis says at the beginning of the commercial, as two wrestlers go into action.

It's a bit role, and Lewis isn't sure how much he'll make from it, but he knows it will be a lot in relation to the time and effort required.

"It's a heck of a part-time job," he said. "I've just been in the right place at the right time."

Lewis was asked to audition for a Campbell's Soup commercial two weeks ago, but couldn't because he was accompanying three Titan wrestlers to the NCAA meet in Oklahoma City.

Lewis is considered a part-time coach at Fullerton--he is paid about $36,000, while full-time coaches make about $72,000--but wrestling is a full-time priority.

"I won't try to fool myself--I'm no actor," Lewis said. "It's a matter of having the right look and being in the right place. But it's fun. I hope to do some more of it."

To that end, Lewis has secured some help, though he's almost embarrassed to admit it.

"I hate to say it--it sounds funny," Lewis says in a sheepish tone of voice, "but I have an agent."

That would be Andrew Woolf, who works for World Class Sports in Los Angeles and was rather amazed at Lewis' good timing and fortune.

"We've been in business for nine years and never had a call for a wrestling coach," Woolf said. "Then we got two in five months."

Hoops update: Titan Athletic Director Bill Shumard has met with at least three candidates who are expected to be finalists for the basketball coaching job, and at least one--UCLA assistant Brad Holland--has been told he is a finalist and will go through the formal interview process.

If Holland is Fullerton's leading candidate, however, the Titans may find themselves in competition with Loyola Marymount for his services. Holland said he has discussed the Loyola Marymount position with Athletic Director Brian Quinn and is interested in both jobs.

"I don't know enough about either school," said Holland, the former Bruin and Laker player. "I need to get in there and get a real sense for the schools and what direction they're going in. More discussion needs to take place."

Shumard met with Cal State Bakersfield Coach Pat Douglass in Bakersfield two weeks ago, UC Riverside Coach John Masi March 18 and Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight on Friday. Masi and McKnight said they would continue pursuing the job, but Douglass could not be reached for comment.

"I feel I have a real solid shot at it," said McKnight, who was informally interviewed for the UC Irvine job last year. "Last year was a token situation at UCI, but it really feels like Fullerton is interested in me, and I'm interested in them."

Shumard has also had telephone discussions with Utah assistant Donny Daniels, DePaul assistant Ken Burmeister and Villanova assistant John Olive. Ventura College Coach Phil Mathews was asked by Shumard to apply but said he will not pursue the position.

The search committee is expected to begin interviewing finalists next week.

Black Sunday: Twice in the past two weeks, the Titan baseball team has been in position to sweep a three-game series, and twice it has lost to inferior Big West Conference teams. On March 22, Fullerton fell to New Mexico State, 10-8, and on Sunday, Pacific won, 3-2.

The losses dropped the Titans (22-9, 6-3 in conference) into fourth place behind Cal State Long Beach (8-1 in conference), San Jose State (7-2) and Fresno State (5-1). And fifth-place Nevada Las Vegas (4-2) actually has one less loss than Fullerton.

It's too early to panic, but the losses certainly put added pressure on the Titans to win two of three or sweep upcoming series against Fresno State, UNLV and Long Beach, three of the conference's top teams, if they are to win the Big West title.

"I'm not worried one bit," said senior catcher Jason Moler, who is batting .392 with 15 doubles and 31 runs batted in. "We don't think anyone can beat us in a series. We just have to play hard and stop worrying about winning.

"Everyone knows we should beat certain teams, but if things don't go right the first few innings, we start panicking. We just have to play inning by inning, concentrate on the fundamentals of the game, and forget who the opponent is."

Upgraded: Tennis player Marni Matsumoto is off the critical list and was in guarded condition Monday at UCI Medical Center in Orange, her coach, Bill Reynolds, said. The sophomore, 20, from La Palma, was injured in a car accident early Saturday morning on the Riverside Freeway.

Titan Notes

Tiffany Boyd, who went 8-0 with a 0.00 earned-run average and 63 strikeouts last week, was named Big West Conference softball co-pitcher of the week with UNLV's Lori Harrigan. Boyd had five complete games and three shutouts, and five of her victories came during the PONY tournament, which Fullerton won Sunday. . . . Junior infielder Denise DeWalt, a transfer from Cedarville College in Ohio, leads the Titan softball team in batting average (.376), runs (18), hits (44), RBIs (12), doubles (four) and stolen bases (six). . . . Fullerton gymnasts Celeste Delia and Wendy Minch both qualified as individual all-around competitors for the NCAA West Regional, scheduled for April 11 at Berkeley. Delia, a sophomore, won the Big West all-around title with a 38.85 during Saturday's conference meet at Utah State. The Titans closed the season with a 9-9 record. . . . The Fullerton baseball team leads the conference in batting average (.337), is third in ERA (3.81) and seventh in fielding percentage (.960). Baseball America ranked the Titans seventh nationally for the second consecutive week, but Fullerton fell from 11th to 16th in Collegiate Baseball Magazine's poll Monday. The Titans play host to Fresno State in a key conference series Friday night (7 p.m.), Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Amerige Park.

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