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Shatel: Ex-Mav a feel-good story in troubling college times

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Shatel: Ex-Mav a feel-good story in troubling college times

Justin Coleman, now at Iowa State, was all-state in 2008.


Forget Johnny Fast Lane. Forget Alex Shortcut. I like this story better.

Justin Coleman is a senior walk-on receiver at Iowa State.

Correction: scholarship receiver.

The Beatrice, Neb., kid got the news at a Cyclone team meeting last week. ISU coach Paul Rhoads got all emotional. And why not?

The receiver came to Iowa State from UNO after the Maverick football program was shut down in 2011. Coleman told Cyclone Fanatic that he first read the news about UNO football folding on Omaha.com, at about midnight the night before it was announced.

“There was a part of me that kind of held on to thinking that it wouldn't happen,” Coleman said. “Basically on Sunday morning, coach (Pat) Behrns called everybody on the team and told them what happened and apologized.”

Like all of the Mavs, Coleman was stuck. Recruiting season was over. He also had just signed a lease on an apartment. That was costly.

But he got a break: Back in the early 1990s, Behrns had coached at Utah State with Rhoads. Coleman, who caught 48 passes for 570 yards and a touchdown in two years at UNO, was given the shot to walk on at Ames.

Coleman redshirted the 2011 season and made an impact on special teams last year. He enters this season in the mix with the ISU receivers. And, with a Big 12 full ride.

Congrats, Justin. You earned the happy ending.

>> The latest Johnny Manziel story has raised the question: Should student-athletes get to keep money earned from signing autographs?

Let's answer that with another question: Would you pay for Kenny Bell's autograph on a helmet? Or Taylor Martinez's signature on a football?

And should Spencer Long get the same amount they do?

Would you buy a ticket to Fan Day if that's the only way you could get in?

I don't believe the market for college football autographs would be large. These kinds of things are usually sold at private, silent auctions at charity events or banquets. And typically, it's the stars whose signatures are hot property.

So should the Johnny Footballs of the world get all the money? That's a question for the NCAA. And the agents and lawyers who would certainly pounce in that situation.

Johnny Football is not exactly the right example for the student-athlete's cause. He's reckless. He's entitled. His family and football family seem to have no clue on how to corral him and little interest in doing so.

Will he get to play this season? If he's as street smart as I think he and his entourage — and the autograph brokers — are, they didn't leave a money trail.

>> What are the chances that Manziel and Alex Rodriguez will be appearing at the same autograph show — next year?

>> Baseball can clean all these guys up now. That's a good thing. But I'll never take any of the records set in the past 20 years seriously. And I don't care if the Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies are five minutes long.

>> So I read that Braxton Miller is the new Heisman Trophy leader now. First of all, it's August. Second, don't write off Johnny Football. Third, it's August. The Heisman race will begin, either way, on Sept. 14 — the day of Alabama-Texas A&M.

>> The NBA schedules are due out soon, possibly this week. Why is that important? Because the Big East hoops schedules can't be finalized until the NBA is done first. Why? Because a handful of league teams play in NBA arenas. I'm told that Creighton's inaugural Big East road schedule will be released within a week or so of the NBA. Welcome to the Big East.

>> Michael who? Missy Franklin just made the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials potentially bigger than the past two. Sure, Ryan Lochte will be here. But the charismatic Franklin is now the face of swimming. Just think if Michael Phelps puts down his sand wedge for another Olympic run in three years. We'll have Mount Rushmore in the pool.

>> Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla writes that Franklin, a Denver native, has surpassed John Elway as the state's biggest sports icon. There are probably some Kansas City Chiefs fans who might disagree with that. Western Nebraska Bronco fans, feel free to weigh in.

>> I had a short talk with NU offensive coordinator Tim Beck in his office last Friday, for my column on the 2013 offense. What a warrior.

If you have sleep apnea, or think you might, you can relate to Beck. He felt tired every day, even after sleeping several hours. He got checked. He had sleep apnea. They gave him the sleeping machines to take home. He didn't like them.

Soon after, Beck was at the dentist getting checked up. The dentist noticed that Beck was a teeth “grinder” to the extreme. He asked Beck if he was having problems sleeping. Beck said yes. The dentist said he should consider having his jaw broken — moved up, was how Beck put it — and that would enable him to sleep better.

That's what he did this summer. It had been a month since Beck's surgery. Last Friday, his face was still numb. He still can't chew food. He showed me the baby spoon he used to eat apple sauce and pudding. And the kids' tooth brush he had to use after every “meal,” an hour process which includes exercising his tongue. No, I'm not making this up.

Beck said he's still weeks away from being able to eat real food. Meanwhile, one of the two metal plates put into his face is rubbing up against his gums and hurts like you-know-what. He might have to go back in for more surgery.

If his players take after Beck in any way, this will be the toughest offense in Nebraska history.

>> The Kansas City Royals are in a pennant race in August. That alone is good cause for two wild cards.

>> Iowa is the No. 1 party school? Can't help but wonder how the last two football seasons played into that.

>> Can't wait for the Big Ten Network campus tour to begin. Anything to get last year's Big Ten championship game off the air. That can't be interesting to Wisconsin fans anymore.

>> One more and I'm outta here: Finally, my Red McManus story.

Bill Walton was the featured speaker at the Creighton Prep sports night several years ago. Red was in attendance, as the old Creighton coach was for almost every sports event in Omaha.

Walton was introduced to Coach and Red mentioned that his teams took on John Wooden's UCLA teams in the 1960s. Walton took out his cellphone and dialed a number. He then handed the phone to Red, who was suddenly speaking to Wooden on the other end. The two old combatants and friends had a good, long chat.

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