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George Solomon

The Perplexing Case of One L. Coles

By George Solomon
Sunday, February 27, 2005; Page E02

Like you, I'm puzzled by this whole Laveranues Coles business. The 27-year-old millionaire wide receiver, who in his two seasons with the Redskins has caught 172 passes, told Coach Joe Gibbs after the season he wanted to leave the team even though he was under contract.

Depending on the day, the Redskins could release Coles if he agrees to return some of the $13 million signing bonus he received two years ago along with a seven-year, $35 million contract.

Laveranues Coles, 27, has made 172 receptions for the Redskins in the past two seasons. But Coles's discontent has cast his future with the team and Coach Joe Gibbs in doubt. (John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)

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Or they could trade Coles, if tackle Chris Samuels, who will never see the inside of the Hall of Fame either, agrees to restructure his inflated contract, creating cap space to absorb the $9 million Coles would count against the Redskins' salary cap of $85 million, or the GNP of (pick four countries).

What am I missing here?

I watched the Redskins last year and Coles, while he caught 90 passes, was upset he didn't catch more of those balls downfield and score more than his one touchdown. But he rarely got open. I know he had a bad toe. And I know Mark Brunell wasn't good throwing long or short. And I know Patrick Ramsey is not Tom Brady.

But Coles wasn't very good last year. He didn't get open; and when he did, he dropped his share of balls, although fewer than Rod Gardner, who also wasn't very good. So who told Coles he was Art Monk? Who told Coles he could be Randy Moss?

I'm also told he wasn't the best guy in the locker room, which is probably why Gibbs wants him gone. I thought halfway through the season Coles had cashed out.

Still, in this age of free agency and "I want the ball, I want the ring" philosophy, I would keep Coles. Where's he going? If Gibbs could deal with the Riggos and Dexters of another generation, how about getting Coles to shape up? Heck, Gibbs works with NASCAR bad-boy Tony Stewart, who has probably wanted to run over Gibbs in a car a hundred times.

If Coles doesn't want to be a Redskin, put him in stock car, I say.

A Little Team That Could

While the "Big Dogs" in town continue to scratch for wins in hopes of getting bids to the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, Bowie State's Bulldogs have for the first time become No. 1 in the Division II rankings with a 24-3 record.

When Coach Luke D'Alessio took over six years ago, Bowie State had a nearly three-decade tradition of losing men's basketball teams and was best known as the training camp and practice site of the Washington Bullets until the team changed its name and moved downtown seven years ago.

But after his first two years at Bowie State in which D'Alessio was paid as a part-time staff member, the coach has enjoyed great success, culminating in the top ranking as well as the top seed in the upcoming Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament.

"Our goal was to get to number one in the regular season," D'Alessio said. "It wasn't easy, but it certainly feels good."

D'Alessio has been in the area for years, playing at Catholic University for Jack Kvancz (now AD at GW) from 1979 to '83, coaching the JV team at Good Counsel, working for six years as an assistant at Catholic and having success for six years as head coach at Catonsville Community College before moving to Bowie State.

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