- Titletown High -5 Things About Valdosta Football 'Titletown High' Doesn't Explain
The trailer for Titletown High had me at "high school football town." Every time I need some comfort TV, my go-to is Friday Night Lights, where I can moon over Eric and Tami Taylor's marriage and all of the misunderstood teens in Texas, so the reality series screamed promise. As I watched Grayson Levy's dad spread peanut butter on what looks like suspiciously un-toasted bread for his son before morning practice, I was hooked. This is real life football town stuff!
While Zoe is no Lyla, for what it's worth, the Netflix reality series delivered, if only because I had to stop myself from following high school students on Instagram in order to see if they were all still friends or had moved onto the college team of their dreams.
Still, as a student of realty television, it became very apparent early on that a lot was left on the cutting room floor. And reader, I was right. Although the series delivers on the team drama, this town is rife with the kind of football scandal that would make Coach Taylor's head spin.
The Previous Coach Left Amid A Ton Of Drama
The series begins with a montage of news items about the previous coach, Alan Alan Rodemaker, being replaced by Coach Rush Propst. But his firing led to a contentious lawsuit filed by Rodemaker, who claimed that five of the Valdosta Board of Education members who were Black had conspired to fire him because he was white, in the name of hiring a Black coach. The four members of the board who did vote for him were white. Rodemaker's wife also filed a lawsuit claiming racial discrimination.
The thing is, his record for winning was pretty good, but as ESPN reports, he was offered a teaching position at the school and declined, which could have swayed the board members. Later, the same Black board members also voted to hire Propst, so any racial bias seems to be moot. Either way, the town was already split on Propst and the future of the football team way before cameras started rolling.
Rodemaker has since filed for damages, though the Georgian courts have overturned his appeals, citing that his claim lacks sufficient evidence that he was racially discriminated against because he was white.
Coach Propst Had A Second Family
Propst's wife Stefnie who appears in the series isn't his first wife. In fact, Rush had a whole other wife, Tammy, and children before eventually marrying Stefnie. The problem? He had been courting Stefnie and even had children with her long before he ever divorced Tammy. The man had a whole ass double life while he was coaching at Hoover High School in Alabama. As ESPN tells it in a 2013 article, he had seen Stefnie and gotten her pregnant early on in his marriage to Tammy and he likely would have continued to lead this double life had the rumors not spread to the athletic offices at the school.
There, he faced allegations that he had used football club money to support and hide his family, in addition to engaging in unethical recruiting practices (ahem, Jake Garcia) while coaching at the school. He was forced to resign.
His first wife Tammy told ESPN back in 2013, "Rush is Rush. He was a lousy husband to me, and I'm not sure as time goes on he won't be a lousy husband to her." So when Stefnie and Rush are talking to their kids about the looming Valdosta scandal in the later episodes of Titletown High, it's because they've been here before.
He's Also Been Accused Of Some Shady Business
After he was forced to resign in Alabama, Propst moved his family to Georgia, where he coached at Colquitt County. There, he was suspended multiple times, once for headbutting one of his players on the field. He was eventually fired for unethical recruiting practices, owing back taxes, and for giving his players pills.
But He's Been On A TV Show Before
If Propst looked familiar to you while you watched Titletown High, consider yourself a football reality show enthusiast! Propst was also the star of MTV's Two A Days while he was at Hoover High. The series lasted for two seasons and wasn't renewed because of the controversy surrounding Propst's resignation once news of his second life got out.
The Jake Garcia Of It All Was Just The Beginning
Titletown High really buried the lede with this one. At the end of season, both onscreen and off, recordings between Propst and Valdosta Touchdown Club leader Michael "Nub" Nelson revealed that Propst had asked the club to pay the rent for all of the transfer students and wanted "funny money" in order to lure future recruits, too. Jake was deemed ineligible because he hadn't made a "bondafide mood," but in the wake of the controversy, four other players, including Amari Jones, were ruled ineligible to play for the 2021 season and had to forfeit all of their Wildcats wins.
Maybe this is all fodder for Season 2 of Titletown?