Why Did Jake Garcia Leave Valdosta High School? The Average Person's Guide To Football Rules

- Titletown High -
Why Did Jake Garcia Leave Valdosta High School? The Average Person's Guide To Football Rules

Early on in Netflix's Titletown High, star quarterback Jake Garcia is deemed ineligible to play for Valdosta High School and the one game that he did play in was forfeited. If you don't follow high school football recruiting news, this may all have seemed a little convoluted in the series. And to be honest it is, given that Jake's having to leave Valdosta seems as much about following the rules as it has to do with some beef among the football elders in town.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, California, where Jake lived and played high school ball, declared that all sports would be canceled for the 2020 season. While that sucks for all sorts of reasons, it was especially sucky for a guy like Jake, who already had a handful of offers from some pretty great football colleges. Because football is life, Jake decided to take Coach Rush Propst up on a cross-country move to Georgia in hopes of starting as a quarterback on the Valdosta Wildcats.

Jake's dad, Randy, told ESPN in an interview, "It's once in a lifetime. He's got one senior year. He wants to play, it's important for him. It was a no-brainer for us. And, unfortunately, there's a lot of parents that can't [move]. It's really sad. There's a lot of studs in a lot of these states that are just going to sit out. They're not going to play, and it's just not fair." He's right — moving for football isn't uncommon, especially during the pandemic, as ESPN lays out in the interview. A total of 15 students transferred to Valdosta along with Garcia, so he wasn't alone.

Sadly, good 'ole Randy just couldn't keep his mouth shut, as you see Coach Propst scold him for a little bit in Episode 2 of the Netflix series.

In the interview with ESPN, Randy elaborates that he and wife Yvonne decided to legally separate because she wasn't going to be able to leave her job on such short notice — Jake and Randy packed their bags four days after first meeting with Propst, per the ESPN article. The couple assumed that would ensure that Jake had made a "bonafide move," a rule in Georgia that states that the player has to live with both parents to make it official. With Randy and Yvonne split up, Jake could say that his father had custody of him.

If only Randy hadn't also spilled that he and his wife had split just so that Jake would be eligible and that they planned to get back together after the season.

That would be like a woman from 90 Day Fiancé openly admitting to the cameras that she's marrying a much older, loser of a man just for an American passport and half his money. We all know that's what's happening, but you don't have to admit it, Randy! It was a sham divorce in the name of doing right by their kid, but the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) saw it as a violation. The Garcias appealed the ruling, but to no avail. Hence, Jake having to leave the Wildcats.

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But Jake came out alright. He eventually transferred to Grayson High, outside of Atlanta, to play on their football team. He was still in Georgia, but by this time, Randy had legal custody of his son instead of the "physical custody" he had claimed in initial court docs.

While the real reason Jake had to leave Valdosta was for allegedly circumventing the transfer rules, the GHSA likely would never have been the wiser about the move had his father not given the interview with ESPN. Or if someone, likely someone like Valdosta Touchdown Club Director Michael “Nub” Nelson, who eventually led the charge to get Coach Propst fired, hadn't sent in a complaint. Nelson was clearly not on board with many of Propst's management techniques.

As it would turn out, Garcia's ineligibility was the just the beginning of scandal in Valdosta, though it's not thoroughly covered in the Netflix series. By the end of the 2020 season, Coach Propst would be removed of his job without pay for allegedly asking the Touchdown Club to pay rent for Jake's family for four months, among other allegations regarding how he courted recruits and how he used the club money to support the team and players.

Fortunately for Jake, none of Propst's dealings had any effect on his football career, as he's currently attending and playing ball for the University of Miami, having started in Spring 2021. Basically, even though it got messy, it seems everything his mom and dad did for him paid off.

Images: Netflix

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