CouGreat Erik Coleman is now Mr. Analyst

TECHNOLOGY, COUGREAT Erik Coleman says, is a beautiful thing. Without it, he might not be a TV analyst doing New York Jets pre- and post-game shows this season. He also might not be as connected as he is with fellow Cougs he last took the field with more than a decade ago.

Coleman was in Las Vegas this past weekend for his brother’s wedding so he couldn’t join the contingent of Cougar DB greats in Pullman for the WSU-Oregon game. But he was able to watch it live.

“A lot of my best friends were at the game -- Jason David, Marcus Trufant, Lamont Thompson. We talk (and/or text) every day,” Coleman told CF.C this week as part of the site's semi-regular Where are they now? series.

“I was proud of (the Cougs’) efforts. I thought they did a great job with the offense. I do wish they would have allowed less explosive plays.”

The Cougars' youth in the secondary was plain to see, he said.

“I’m not a guy who believes you have to go through tough times because you’re young in the secondary. But I will say this: When I was a young player, I had Billy Newman (as a mentor), and Marcus Trufant was just a year older than me but I had Marcus Trufant too. I had Lamont Thompson. I had those guys in the secondary who kinda showed me the ropes. So I think we were able to miss that period of getting torched, because it is a big learning curve.”

Coleman, 32, is just starting on a new learning curve himself. The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication graduate is in his first year as an analyst on Jets Game Plan, a show on SportsNet New York that previews Jets games. And being a resident of Long Island, he’s also doing the post-game show for all the Jets’ home games.

Without Twitter, who knows if he’d be in the studio.

Coleman was a fifth-round draft choice in 2004 and played nine seasons in the NFL with the Jets, Falcons and Lions. He racked up 653 career tackles and 11 interceptions in the NFL.

The producer of the show contacted the Jets, Coleman's first NFL team in a nine-year pro career, but couldn’t get a current phone number for the former safety. So he reached out via Twitter. Coleman responded immediately, went on to do some preseason work for them, and then was signed on for the regular season.

“My knowledge of the game -- I try to bring that out and show fans a different view of it. Why did the cornerback (do that)? When a guy gets beat for a touchdown, (maybe) it wasn’t really his fault because he was supposed to have help from somewhere else.

“Or to just give stories from when I played. For instance, Dee Milliner is coming off a high- ankle sprain injury, and I had the same injury. So how long does it take to really come all the way back from one? And so I’ll tell people -- it’s one thing to be able to run around again. It’s another thing to play.”

Coleman also has a regular job with CORE Medical.

“I’m a practicing manager of the company," he said. "We have three locations (New York, South Florida, Boston). The business is to the point now I don’t have to be there all the time. I’m in charge of bringing in business, promoting what we do ... it allows me to be an analyst in my ‘free time.’ And I love it. I love the game and I would like to eventually be an analyst full time.”

So put on your analyst hat: Went wrong in the WSU secondary against the Ducks?

“A lot of the errors I see are communication errors. They’re not just ‘getting beat,’” said Coleman. “And it is hard sometimes to communicate in a sold-out Martin Stadium but ... don’t beat yourselves. We do have a young secondary but it wasn’t the effort, it wasn’t the talent. It was a lapse of mental focus. And as a team, you give up enough of those, it breaks you down mentally.”

“But what I saw - we’re fighters. I love the energy the defense brought to the table against Oregon ... It shows you we just need to believe. And maybe that comes with age. But we definitely have the talent.”

Final thoughts?

“I do think Cougar Football is heading in the right direction. We're (Coleman, Trufant, David, Thompson) all getting excited about them and everyone is looking for them to take that next step… In my sophomore year, 2001, we just started to believe. We put in the work in the offseason and we played every game like we knew we were going to win… They have the talent. They just need to start believing in themselves,” said Coleman.

• The Spokane native and 2003 WSU team captain finished his college career with 234 tackles and 12 interceptions, the latter mark tied for seventh on WSU's all-time list. In his final collegiate game, the Holiday Bowl vs. Texas, the safety was tasked with blitzing continually and turned into a Longhorn nightmare with eight tackles (seven solo), a forced fumble, a sack, blocked punt and three pass breakups.

• He earned first-team all-Pac-10 and honorable mention All-America honors in 2003 with a 90-tackle, seven interception season. he also was on the watch list for the Nagurski Award for national defensive player of the year.

• He never redshirted at WSU. “I’ve thought about that, what it might have been like to have played (as a fifth-year senior.) But I’ve been blessed with my professional career. But my favorite years of playing football were playing ball in Pullman, as a Coug,” said Coleman.

• “I really want to try and get back to Pullman this year for a game but my wife is pregnant, I’m on a short leash,” laughed Coleman. “Most likely, I’ll definitely make one next year. I want to make a couple of them, I want to go to some spring practices. I want to get back involved.”


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