Top-ranked Florida State's football coach, Bobby Bowden, said today senior wide receiver Laveranues Coles will not play in Saturday's game here against No. 19 Miami. Bowden also said he will not decide whether senior wide receiver and Heisman Trophy hopeful Peter Warrick can play until he receives the results of a police investigation into possible retail fraud that may have involved the two players.
On Monday, police questioned Warrick, Coles and a Dillard's department store sales clerk about a transaction, according to a police report, in which $243.77 worth of men's clothing was acquired for less than $25. Such a transaction could amount to a misdemeanor fraud charge, though no charges were filed as of this afternoon.
Bowden said during an interview this morning he has been told not to expect the results of the police investigation until Thursday at the earliest. He said both players could be suspended for Saturday's game. He declined to say what circumstance would prompt a suspension and said he was simply waiting on the facts. He added that any action he took would be commensurate with the severity of the incident.
"You have the law, then you have the university, then us," Bowden said this morning. "So there are three layers."
After practice this evening, Bowden told reporters that Coles "will not dress for Saturday's game no matter what the outcome" of the investigation.
Coles (12 receptions for 179 yards and one touchdown this season) is a potential first-round NFL draft pick. Warrick is widely considered the nation's top wide receiver. He also is among the national leaders in punt returns. With Coles out for Saturday's game, senior Ron Dugans (14 receptions for 259 yards and one touchdown) would become the Seminoles' secondary wide receiver.
"We have received no inkling from the police or the state attorney as to what the decision is going to be," Bowden said this morning. "They've given no hints. I'm not ready to judge them guilty."
Warrick practiced Tuesday but Coles was not at Tuesday's workout. Bowden said this morning Coles had been excused Tuesday because police officers wanted to question him.
"They wanted him to talk to them about it," Bowden said during the interview this morning. "As far as I know, he'll be out there today. He wasn't suspended. There's been no ruling on it yet."
This afternoon, Warrick practiced again. Coles did not.
Neither Warrick nor Coles spoke to reporters today, partly because university officials were not pleased with impressions left by televised remarks Tuesday. Coles said he felt the broadcast media was blowing the incident out of proportion.
"Y'all made it seem like we ran into the store with bags or something and just grabbed the clothes and ran out," Coles said in a televised interview Tuesday. "It's not like that at all."
Asked if the incident had been a distraction, Bowden said this morning: "I think it has been to the coaches and the boys themselves. But as far as the other players, you know how kids are. They want to play football. I haven't seen any indication it's a distraction to them."
The Florida State-Miami rivalry is among the most fierce in college football. Adding to the drama of Saturday's game, the Seminoles have the nation's longest active home unbeaten streak--43 games, dating from a 17-16 loss to Miami in 1991.
This past weekend, Bowden praised the maturity of Warrick, who leads the team with 36 receptions for 508 yards and four touchdowns.
"He plays a year older than he did last year," Bowden said of Warrick following Saturday's 51-23 victory over Duke. "He has made continuous improvements each year since he got here. He has improved in the way he handles himself on the field and off the field as a leader."