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Rush Propst (born December, 1958 in Ohatchee, Alabama) is the head coach of football at Colquitt County High School in Moultrie, Georgia. He is the former head coach of the team at Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama. Propst gained national notoriety through the MTV series Two-A-Days, which chronicled the 2005 and 2006 seasons of his Hoover team.
He has helped over 40 players receive college scholarships, including players such as Chad Jackson (Florida), John Parker Wilson (Alabama), Ryan Pugh (Auburn) and Cornelius Williams (Troy). At the end of the 2009 season, his 21-year head coaching record stood at 198–64 (.756 win rate).
Propst is a native of Ohatchee, Alabama where he graduated from Ohatchee High School in 1976. Propst played high school football for Coach Ragan Clark, whose son Bill was later the head coach at Prattville High School, a Hoover rival, for many years. Ohatchee was 27-5-1 in Propst's three years as a starter at wide receiver and defensive back, with Propst earning All-County recognition as a senior. In addition to football, he was a two-year starter on the basketball team and won the District 100-yard dash his senior year although Ohatchee did not have a track program that year. Propst attended college at Jacksonville State University where he was a non-scholarship member of the JSU football team in 1976-1977. He graduated from Jacksonville State in 1981 with a degree in Physical Education. In 1986, he married Tammy Cox, with whom he has three children.
Propst took his first coaching position as a student assistant at Ohatchee in 1978, the year they won their only state championship. He also served as an assistant coach for eight years at Cleburne County High School in Heflin, Alabama, Cherokee High School in Canton, Georgia, and Ashville High School in Ashville, Alabama. Propst was eventually promoted to head football coach at Ashville High, serving from 1989 to 1993. He then moved on to Eufaula High School in Eufaula, Alabama from 1994-1996 before being hired by Alba High School in Bayou La Batre, Alabama in 1997. In 1998, Propst coached Alma Bryant High School, the school that resulted from Alba's merger with the high school in Grand Bay, Alabama. At Alma Bryant High School he amassed a 12–2 record.
He was hired at Hoover in 1999, where he coached for nine years, winning 110 games and five state championships. Propst's Hoover team was one of the top-ranked teams in the United States over much of the first decade of the new millennium, winning Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A state championships in five of the first six seasons including four consecutive titles from 2002 to 2005 (missing out on 7 straight after losses in the championship game to Daphne in 2001 and Prattville in 2006). During Propst's tenure, Hoover was repeatedly ranked in the nation's top-25 polls, finishing as the #16 team in the nation in 2003, #4 in the nation in 2004, #8 in the nation in 2005, and ranked #1 entering the 2006 season by Sports Illustrated, USA Today and the National Prep Football Poll. Propst's base salary at Hoover was $100,678.
On January 30, 2008, Propst was named head coach at Colquitt County High School. When Les Koenning left the University of South Alabama in January 2009, head coach Joey Jones interviewed Propst to fill the vacant position as the offensive coordinator. After community uproar over the interview, Propst decided to stay at Colquitt County.
During his tenure at Hoover, Propst was a frequent target of critics. But in June 2007, the criticism became more vocal and more formal when HHS athletic director Jerry Browning, Propst's immediate superior, resigned over numerous differences between himself and principal Richard Bishop, who was a teammate of Propst on the football team at Jacksonville State University. Browning expressed concerns over reports that grades for certain athletes had been altered to make them eligible for college play, and made those concerns known to Hoover City Schools Superintendent Andy Craig in a meeting in April. Bishop originally announced that there was nothing to be concerned about, but Craig overruled Bishop and announced that a full investigation would be carried out, to be headed by former federal judge Sam C. Pointer, Jr.
Propst also faced charges having to do with his personal life, specifically that he engaged in extramarital affairs. The topic was the focus of considerable discussion on the Paul Finebaum syndicated sports talk radio show, where Hunter Ford, a reporter for The Hoover Gazette newspaper, reported the rumors. During those discussions, Ford was fired, live and on the air, by Gazette general manager John Junkin. (Ironically, Ford had previously advocated in a Gazette column that Propst be hired to fill the then-vacant head coach position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham). The Gazette went out of business about five weeks later.
Ford, who also worked for another suburban weekly, The Western Star in nearby Bessemer, went to work for that newspaper full-time after his firing from The Hoover Gazette. In his column in the July 4, 2007 edition of The Western Star, Ford reported that a number of sources, none of which would allow their name to be used, said that Propst's alleged affairs also included three children born out of wedlock. The following week, The Western Star printed an apology for allowing Ford to print these allegations in their paper, though it did not specifically retract the charges. Propst continued to deny the allegations, which have yet to be confirmed by legal records or by anyone who will allow reporters to quote them by name.
But on July 28, 2007, The Birmingham News went public with the allegations when it published a letter from attorneys for Bishop to the Hoover Board of Education. The letter was a result of the board voting to not renew Bishop's contract as principal, an act which garnered widespread coverage by local news media. In the letter by Bishop's attorneys, which The News obtained through a public-records request, the attorneys state that Browning told Bishop that Propst "had a separate family and led a completely separate life," and that Bishop was told by Craig not to investigate the matter. The letter further alleges that Propst, "while on a school site visit in Houston, Texas, slept with a young teacher from Hoover High School," and also that Propst had carried on a separate affair with an official at Hoover High. Propst's attorney denied the allegations.
Pointer completed his investigation in late September, and after considerable debate over several sessions (and public pressure from numerous public figures, including Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos), the Hoover Board of Education voted 4-1 to release the report through several sources, including the board's website. Among the findings were that Propst's bank records indicated support for a "second family" in Pell City, Alabama, but the incidents regarding grade-changing were largely caused by an assistant principal (with whom, the report indicated, Propst had an affair) and an administrator.
Propst came under further scrutiny when Hanceville High School complained to the Alabama High School Athletic Association that a former player of theirs, Tristan Purifoy, did not transfer properly to Hoover High and was therefore ineligible. On October 23, 2007, the AHSAA ruled that Purifoy was indeed ineligible, and that the Bucs would have to forfeit all games in which Purifoy played. The investigation resulted in the forfeiture of four games, including a 1-0 loss to crosstown rival Spain Park High School, the first loss to the Jaguars in the history of the teams' rivalry. Despite the forfeits, the Bucs finished the regular season with a 4-5 record and qualified for the AHSAA 6A playoffs. However, in Propst's last game as Hoover's head coach, they lost in the third round to another crosstown rival Vestavia Hills 21-17, a game considered by many Alabama sportswriters to be the biggest rivalry in the state. His team finished the season with an on-field record of 10-2 (6-6 including the four forfeit losses).
At a special meeting of the Hoover Board of Education on October 30, 2007, Propst announced that he would resign, but would continue to coach the team as far as they progress in the 2007 playoffs. In a 30-minute address to the board and a large crowd inside the board chambers, Propst tearfully admitted to a relationship outside his marriage and a child as a result of that relationship, but no other wrongdoing. "I am remorseful for what I have done. I have failed you as a community. I have failed you as a board, and especially I have failed you (Superintendent) Andy (Craig)," Propst said. "I made mistakes. I could have done things differently, but I don't admit wrongdoing inside the walls of Hoover High School."
Propst has been featured in an instructional video entitled Building A Championship Football Program 12 Months A Year, published in 2007. The DVD outlines the steps to build a successful gridiron program, including the preparation and responsibilities of a coaching staff including the importance of building a booster club.
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