Cell phones on the bench? Bad idea.

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The funniest player-coach interaction I’ve ever seen at a sporting even involved a cell phone.

It was at a college soccer game back in 2006. I can’t remember what school was playing (they wore green, I know that), but we were in our usual spot, directly behind the opposing bench, getting our heckle on. We didn’t have a football team, so soccer games were our big sporting event.

Anyway, midway through the second half, a cell phone starts ringing in one of the player’s bags. Its playing “Wanksta” by 50 Cent, which was hilarious enough in itself considering that song was almost half a decade old by then. The coach hears the ringing as well and walks over to the bag, opens it up and pulls out one of those old Nextels that had the rainbow colored lights start flashing when the phone rang. He proceeds to walk about ten feet down from the bench and drops the phone, which is still ringing, into a garbage can.

Then a player gets up and, without saying a word to anyone, grabs the bag that the phone was taken out of, walks to the garbage can and pulls the phone out, and simply walks away from the field. To where? I don’t know. But he never said anything to anyone, he just left.

Did I mention he was a member of the road team?

Justin Coleman did this kid one better.

Coleman is a freshman at Marshall, where he decided to enroll after he was ruled ineligible at Louisville. A former top 50 recruit, Coleman was supposed to be a piece that changed the makeup of this Thundering Herd team, building block for the future that would team with sophomore Deandre Kane to give Marshall one of the best perimeter tandems in Conference USA.

That may be a pipe dream, however, as Coleman has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Tom Herrion. Why? Because he spent the second half of the Herd’s loss at Belmont sitting on the bench and texting. Pierce Greenberg of the Mid Majority witnessed this:

Belmont closed the half up 37-25, Coleman slowly meandered off the court, far behind his teammates who jogged to the locker room. In fact, an assistant coach (perhaps a graduate assistant) ran back on to the court and ushered Coleman to pick up the pace. As the second half commenced, Coleman started it behind the bench. Not on the bench, behind the bench and the coaches, far away from the nearest action. Then, I saw something I don’t think I’ve ever seen at any level of sport. Coleman slyly slipped a cell phone out of the sleeve of his warm-ups and proceeded to look at it for most of the second half. Yes, a player that STARTED and participated in a game, spent the entire second half doodling on his phone like a teenage girl at the movie theater. I could hardly take my eyes off of it, refusing to believe what I saw. It was so sophomoric, so appalling. Hell, not only was it disrespectful, Coleman was missing a damn good basketball game. His team didn’t seem to miss his absence as they quickly erased a 16-point deficit in the second half.


He replicated his pathetic meander off the court when the game ended. A once-touted top recruit could barely muster the give-a-damn to even jog off the court after a loss to Belmont.

And then there is this story, which comes from a Marshall basketball message board:

Once Coleman pouted his way onto the floor to begin the second half, one of the GA’s noticed he had his phone in his hand at the end of the bench. He went over to take it from him, Coleman looked up at him and said something to the effect of “get the heck away from me” and Coleman refused to give up his phone. At that point, the GA said something back and went and sat down himself. Coleman then got up and was yelling at the GA from behind him over his shoulder and the GA refused to acknowledge him while another GA was pushing him back and telling him to go sit down. The rest of the second half, Coleman went through a variety of moods and actions from putting his head in his lap, looking at his phone and then sliding his phone up his sleeve or down his compression shorts during timeouts.

I don’t know what actually happened here. I don’t know Coleman’s background and I don’t know how Tom Herrion usually handles his players. I can also easily think of a reason — a family emergency, a sister in labor, a friend getting shot in Afghanistan — why a kid would be visibly upset and needing to use a cell phone on the sideline. But my suspicion is that, since Coleman has been suspended, he likely didn’t have an excuse beyond being pissed off for one reason or another about the way that the game was going.

The biggest question?

How long does Herrion put up with this kind of attitude? Marshall lost to Belmont in the game Coleman quit during. They followed that up with a 16 point loss at home to Akron. With conference play coming up this week, Marshall cannot afford to have distractions like a disgruntled freshman that is upset he is only playing in Conference USA and not in the Big East.

As the saying goes, Coleman needs to shape up or be shipped out.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.