Rush Propst says coaching Valdosta will be a different experience

Rush Propst, one of the state’s controversial coaching figures, said he will approach his new job at Valdosta as a humbled coach.

Propst appeared Monday on the “Georgia Prep Sports: From a Distance” video podcast and blamed his removal as Colquitt County coach in 2019 as “professional jealousy.”

Propst was fired in spring 2019 after an investigation led by Colquitt County's superintendent alleged that Propst had lost control of the team, interfered with the hiring of a principal, administered medication to athletes and owed thousands in income taxes.

Propst, 62, said that some individuals behind the decision to let him go “had their own agenda,” going so far as to label several of the incidents cited as fabrications.

Watch the interview

After his dismissal at Colquitt County, Propst — an Alabama native — went on to volunteer as assistant coach at Alabama-Birmingham last fall.

He said that for many years, he’d kept his eye on Valdosta, referring to it as the epicenter of high school football jobs. He applied for the job once before in 2006. He decided to pursue the position after it opened in January following the dismissal of Alan Rodemaker despite the team’s 10-3 finish in 2019 and a 36-17 overall record in four seasons. Rodemaker led Valdosta to a state title in 2016.

"I've kept my eyes on Valdosta for a long time," said Propst, who was hired last week following a 5-4 vote. He also explained that he was looking at jobs in Alabama and Mississippi.

Propst first came to Georgia in 2008 from Hoover High outside of Birmingham, where he won five state titles. He compiled a 119-35 record over 11 seasons at Colquitt County. Propst’s Packers teams won state titles in the highest classification with undefeated teams in 2014 and 2015.

Valdosta’s 932 victories over more than 100 years are the most in history nationwide. The South Georgia school has won 24 state titles.

He said he’s approaching his second chance at Valdosta with humbleness and focus, starting with his duties as a coach.

“Going forward, I have to look at things differently,” he said. “Rush Propst is going to grind and I’m going to be involved as an OC-type guy in calling of plays.

“We all at some point in our careers need to reinvent ourselves.”

Beyond the field he vowed to take a more diplomatic approach, noting that his relationships with Colquitt County officials suffered as a result of his brashness.

“We won’t win at Valdosta the same way won at Colquitt,” Propst said. “Biggest thing is gotta be figuring out what’s best for Valdosta.”

Monday was Propst’s first day at the school.

He said he’s hoping to have enough time to have players prepped and conditioned for the season.

With schools shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic the timeline for that is undetermined.

Propst said he would lobby for at least seven weeks of conditioning, with additional practices in pads.

“I’m worried injuries could be an all-time high,” without the time to prepare, Propst said.  He advocated even moving the season back to make it safer for the players.