Netflix recently came out with a high school football docuseries set in Valdosta, Georgia called Titletown High. A review of Titletown High will be coming out later this week, but before I give my thoughts on that, I want to revisit a similar show: Two-a-Days.
Two-a-Days aired when I was in high school (16 episodes over two seasons released in 2006–2007) and followed the Hoover (Alabama) High School Buccaneers football team. It was produced by MTV, so along with football came a bunch of off-the-field will-they-won’t-they drama that can only come from hormonal teenagers. It had the angst of The Breakfast Club, the flawed man in a position of power like Wall Street, and, of course, plenty of music by bands like the Coldplay. Here’s the trailer, so let the nostalgia flow gently into your veins:
Aside from the high school drama, there was also plenty of football. Hoover head coach Rush Propst was immensely successful high school football coach who ran his team hard and (off camera) faced down his own personal demons and controversies.
Did you watch the trailer yet? Go on. Do it. I can wait. Okay. Watched? Good deal. Isn’t it great how obvious it was that this was filmed in 2005 or so? I mean, it took me all of 45 seconds to see a puka shell necklace. The haircuts, the music, the fashion…oh, man. I was a junior in high school in the fall of 2005 and at the time Two-a-Days really spoke to me. I’m a big guy and at one point in my life was pretty athletic, but I didn’t like the “rah rah,” every-single-game-is-life-and-death mentality of football. The way to motivate me doesn’t involve screaming at me from 1/2 inch away. But I appreciate football. I enjoy football. And 2005–2007 was prime football consumption for me.
Then there’s the music. The theme song was “The War” by Angles & Airwaves, and each episode was positively riddled with the music of the day. A tense boyfriend-girlfriend moment might play the Fray. Good time party music was probably someone featuring Snoop Dogg. Some classic pseudo-screamo was most likely to be found during football game footage. And because it was Alabama, there was plenty of really bad country music, too.
I do want to confess that I haven’t gone back and watched Two-a-Days. For one thing, I don’t want to pay for MTV’s streaming service. For another, I’m a 32-year-old man and I’m not sure I want to watch the stupid high school drama from back then. I lived that high school drama just like every other high school student in the country, and I’m not sure it would hold up well. But I have crystal clear memories of watching Two-a-Days at my house. Sometimes it would be someone else’s house, and sometimes it would be a little watching party. Oh, man. What a time to be alive.
Because I haven’t rewatched it, I’m going to shift my focus away from the show itself and onto the most controversial subject of the show, head coach Rush Propst.
Rush Propst: Beat The Piss Out Of ‘Em
By 2005, Rush Propst was starting his seventh season as Hoover’s head coach and had won three Alabama class 6A state championships. (He would go on to win two more state titles (both of which came in the Two-a-Days seasons) and finished his career at Hoover with a 110-19 record over nine seasons.) Just unreal amounts of success. And, with two exceptions, even the teams that didn’t win a state championship got close. He was a pioneer of what we used to call the spread offense, and his playbook and strategy resembled the college and pro playbooks and strategies of the time. He was gritty, in-your-face, and everything that I hate about football in general, which means he was probably the perfect high school football coach.
He was a stereotype. A cartoon of a person. I’m not trying to insult him. There’s a reason that stereotypes like that exist. I’ll put it this way: Rush Propst could have been about nine different characters on Friday Night Lights. The accent (which is distinctly Deep South rather than FNL‘s West Texan), the euphemisms, the stupid visor that he wore, the little coaches’ idioms that somehow every football coach in America knows (I was once told I was so slow I couldn’t run out of sight in a week, which is still the most creative insult that has ever been hurled my way), and (spoiler alert) the less-than-above-board practices (such as illegal recruiting and illegal player medical treatments) that may or may not have existed at Hoover but definitely existed elsewhere.
Of course the biggest story to be attached to Rush from his time at Hoover High School was the fact that he had a second family. Not just a fling girlfriend or fleeting mistress. A whole second family. As in “wife” (though not legally because even the Deep South won’t let you be married to two cousins at once) and kids. That’s right. In addition to his actual wife and children in Hoover, Rush had a long-term girlfriend (for want of a better word) and children in Pell City, Alabama. He was also associated with grade changing, but that was later chalked up to an assistant principal at Hoover. However, Rush “Don Juan” Propst is alleged to have had an affair with that assistant principal.
That’s right. Rush allegedly decided that two wives and two sets of kids wasn’t enough, so he wanted to dip his quill in the company ink a little bit. As an aside, we really need to put all high school coaches in their place a little bit. Tax dollars should not ever pay one high school football coach enough money to support two completely separate families.
Of course, the scandal that came from the news of Rush’s second family eventually led to his resignation, at which he apologized and appeared to be genuinely conciliatory, sort of; he admitted to the affair and apologized for off-the-field things, but continued to deny allegations of wrongdoing related to the high school and the football program.
He then crossed the border from Alabama into Georgia where he took a job as the head coach of Colquitt County High School. He coached at Colquitt County from 2008 through the end of the 2018 season, and, naturally, was no stranger to controversy. When he was ultimately fired in March 2019, it was for violating the Georgia teachers’ ethics code, namely the portions relating to legal compliance, conduct with players, honesty, and public funds and property. This last one is especially compelling because it was alleged that Rush illegally gave some players certain medications and owed $450,000 (four-hundred-fifty thousand dollars!) in delinquent federal and state taxes. (Again, why does a public employee even make enough money to amass a $450,000 tax bill in ten years?) Plus, not to let all controversy be off-the-field, he also headbutted a player on the sidelines of a game and was suspended for that. A grown-ass man who’s coached football for 30+ years headbutted some pissant teenager. Super awesome move, right? He was fired and given a 131-day suspension from being involved in high school athletics.
Then he was hired at Valdosta High, coincidentally a rival of Colquitt County, and that’s where our story ends for now. This coming Thursday (September 2, 2021) we will run a review of Titletown High and go over Rush’s life since being fired from Colquitt County.
To bring this all the way back to where we started, Two-a-Days was a pretty great show at the time, at least for people roughly my age. We were in high school and therefore we knew each of the people depicted in the show. Sure, we might not have literally known linebacker Alex Binder (#34 if you rewatch the show), but we knew whoever the Alex Binder of our high school was. We had all of those songs on burned CDs that were housed on the visors of our cars. We had the A&F shirts and curfews and arguments with parents over trivial crap. Two-a-Days was a microcosm of high school drama that was aimed at athletes who considered themselves to macho and above the fray to watch Laguna Beach and The Hills. If you feel like rewatching it, let me know what you thought of it, because I’m afraid if I rewatch it the friendly nostalgia I have will be replaced by disgust that anything like that ever represented who I was as a person.
Happy Tuesday. Go out there and beat the piss out of ’em today!