Football Fridays In Georgia: The Latest On The Valdosta Football Scandal From 'Titletown'
GPB Football Fridays in Georgia podcast hosts Jon Nelson and Hannah Goodin talk with two Valdosta insiders about the ongoing scandal rocking the football program.
Phil Jones, host of the football show Extra Point! with Phil Jones, and Spencer Van Horn, host of the X's &O's Show on Fox Sports Radio Valdosta, give an inside perspective of the effect of the scandal on the program, the status of controversial head football coach Rush Propst, and the reaction of the "Titletown" community at large.
Hannah and Jon also update you on the latest offseason coaching moves from around the state including the potential impact of some big changes in DeKalb County.
Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks for accessing us, however you are doing so: large device or small, stationary or mobile. It's another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. And as I peer over to my left, I see someone who's normally here with me.
Hannah Goodin: Hey, Jon. Back on the monthly offseason podcast. But y'all know there's never enough season. We have a lot to cover today. We've got two guests on to fill us in on what the heck is going on down there in south Georgia,
Jon Nelson: What in the wide world of sports is going on in Valdosta.
Hannah Goodin: What in the world. But before we get to that, as promised in the last podcast, I'd have a neat and tidy rundown of hot topics of things that we would hit. So I think we just jump right into it, Jon, because we have so much to cover today.
Jon Nelson: Go for it.
Hannah Goodin: What is the coaching carousel update? I know you put a blog out there and we talked a lot about some of the new faces around the state on the last podcast. But what are some of the updates?
Jon Nelson: Well, the — See, the thing is, is that when I call it "coaching carousel" — and this is literally this is the Google reference of the show for this week — it's the movie Logan's Run. It's a movie from the late '70s with Michael York, Peter Ustinov, Jenny Agutter, and —
Hannah Goodin: Totally know it. Yep.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. That's what I figured; I said this is the Google search for the show here. That there was there's always a central point in the movie where it was the phrase was, "Welcome to Carousel, now is the time for renewal." OK, and that's where silly season and carousel kind of collide and where you're normally looking at about 20% turnover here in the state of Georgia for high school coaches on a yearly basis. Yeah, and right now, obviously, the topic that we're looking at here with Valdosta will be the central point of this one. It's going to be a part of the discussion going forward because you've had coaches who have left Valdosta, tried to go to other places, then they weren't going to other places. You have spring practice starting where we have folks like Jeff Herron, who we've had on the Football Fridays podcast in the past. There's a picture that's floating out with him at Camden County. He is officially in Kingsland.
Hannah Goodin: Wow.
Jon Nelson: With a whistle standing on Chris Gilman Field, getting everything squared away at spring practice. And so you have all of these all of these coaching vacancies that were filled, all the rotation that was there. You know, we've talked about Bryan Lamar. And I think that one of the underlying topics is the exodus out of DeKalb County, where you have Paul Standard leaving St. Pius going to the mountains, you have Bryan Lamar leaving Tucker going to Gwinnett County. And you have you know, you've got coaches from Cedar Grove heading to take over down at Crisp. So there's going to be an interesting dynamic where Cedar Grove, the Cedar Grove Saints, Miguel Patrick now is going to be in Cordele this year. That's going to be interesting. So you've got a lot of these a lot of these different dynamics in play. But really, DeKalb County, I think, for me is going to be an interesting look-see. See, it's going to be an interesting test case because of the exodus of all the quality coaches. Ron Gartrell from Stevenson retires.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. That's a big one.
Jon Nelson: So you have al of these folks from DeKalb County who have either retired or moved on. How does DeKalb County, you know, respond in this idea about what it's going to look like? And so I think for me, as you're into spring practice, hopefully you have your coaching situation squared away. And if you don't, you're close to it just because of all of the moving parts that are involved and all the new coaches and new places and old coaches in new places with their first spring practices. And obviously, one of the stories that we're going to keep an eye on outside of the coaching carousel is what's going on in Newnan. And we can't go any further without addressing what happened down in Newnan with the tornado.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, I'm really excited to get on that story. That will be my blog post out next month. And I have not dived into it. So I do not know any of the latest updates on what has happened in Newnan, but I look forward to catching up with that community soon.
Jon Nelson:Yeah, Chip Walker. And we'll keep an eye on the community down there. And I will readily admit that, you know, when there's breaking news and breaking weather news here in the South, obviously a lot of folks gravitate to their TVs and seeing what happened to Newnan High School and everyone down there, obviously we just we send our love to you first and foremost and hope that everyone is taking those small steps to recovery. But as Newnan High School was a centerpiece of the damage from the tornado that went through last, we're definitely going to be keeping an eye on things and catching up with Chip Walker and everybody down there in Newnan.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, so look for that next month. Then we look to get him on the podcast to — to talk about the community impact and the football program impact as well.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. And it's going to be a continuing story as we go in 2021 as we hit the front of the ladder. But without further ado, let's — Well you almost get what you're — you're waving your finger and —
Hannah Goodin: You're messing up my rundown.
Jon Nelson: Oh. So what's on your rundown?
Hannah Goodin: You always do this, Jon. I have this beautiful rundown and ...
Jon Nelson: I just sit there and wad it up. I take her monitor and I just wad the thing up and throw the monitor off to the side.
Hannah Goodin: We have to keep Jon in line. OK, we've got a few scheduling reminders. We wanted to get a quick GPB programing note, we are back to normal programing this year. Our first game is set for right after Labor Day, Sept. 10th. Cannot wait! All of the GHSA football teams have finalized their schedules. So the championships are Dec. 9th and 11th. I know that sounds like it's far away, but it always comes.
Jon Nelson: This is the fourth month of the year, so 12 minus four, that's less than eight months away from the championships. And with everything starting in mid-August, I mean, there was a there's a series of football games happening in Week 0 with teams from South Carolina and northeast Georgia. That's going to be happening at Hart County with Rance Gillespie. And that's going to be a fun weekend. Keeping an eye on that and with all of the talent that's there, too. And remember, in that little pocket up there in northeast Georgia, you've had coaches from South Carolina come over and be a part of the process now in the state of Georgia. Franklin County was a recent example of that, too. So it's going to be fun to see all of these new contests working their way out. Benedictine's going to start their season in a game against Miami. And so you're going to have a lot of that stuff going on. What's next on your rundown? See, I didn't toss to the guest. I'm asking you what's on your rundown.
Hannah Goodin: OK, next on the rundown is what we have all been waiting for. Let's talk Valdosta. So before we bring Phil Jones and our very first guest, just want to spit some facts out so I know most people listening to this podcast have been following along what's going on in south Georgia. But for those who haven't, there's an investigation into possible rules, violations and improprieties by the Valdosta Wildcats high school football program. And the Georgia High School Association has handed down sanctions against the team. Fines totaling seventy five hundred dollars have been issued, along with a forfeit of seven wins from the 2020 season; a postseason ban for the upcoming 2021 season; five players ruled ineligible for the 2021 season as well, some of whom have already left the school. Head coach Rush Propst was put on administrative leave on March 9th. He just got hired last year. He's a very controversial coach. There was a meeting this morning at 9 a.m. to actually talk about his administrative leave. Jon, tell us what that was all about.
Jon Nelson: Well, as — as we're talking on that Monday, the 18th, 19th — what day is it?
Hannah Goodin: Today is the 19th. We're recording this on Monday.
Jon Nelson: So Monday the 19th at GHSA was having their meeting in Thomaston at the Upson and Lee Civic Center and the morning session had the GHSA unanimously denied Valdosta appeal and they were planning to appeal the decision obviously in front of the executive committee on Monday afternoon. So you look at everything and it stemmed from a 64-page deposition from the former executive director of the Touchdown Club. And it basically it snowballed from there and all of these different allegations that we talked about and covered on GPB and it's made national news — New York Times, it's been on ESPN — so there's been a lot of stuff going on. And, you know, it's a — it's a shame. And then what we wanted to get into with Phil and Spencer Van Horn from Fox Sports Radio Valdosta, as we get into this show, is to what it means, what it's meant to have Rush there from the beginning, what it's meant to the city of Valdosta, which has had its rivalry with, you know, with the Winnersville Classic with Valdosta and Lowndes. You know, what do the Lowndes folks think? What are the Valdosta fans thinking? What's the future heading into 2021? Because you mentioned schedules and you mentioned, you know, spring practice. Where's Valdosta in all of this? You know, really, you have one of the towns that is associated with high school football here in the United States — not just the state of Georgia, but in the United States — going through this right now, as you're heading into if not being in spring practice. So, I mean, it's a there's a lot of dynamics here in play. And it's — it's sad. It's disappointing. And I know that everyone down there in south Georgia just wants to get to the end of it.
Hannah Goodin: And there's a lot of people who are thinking, "I told you so." All right. With all of that said now, Jon, welcome in our guest.
Jon Nelson: Phil Jones from IGT Next and the Extra Point radio program. All right, so, Hannah, do you want to ask the first question for Phil?
Hannah Goodin: Sure. All right, Phil, the last time you and I talked was April 2020 about the controversial Rush Propst hire. Fast forward a year: The drama has not stopped and now some audio recordings have come out. That's basically where we're at. How did we get here?
Phil Jones: Well, the past has been, you know, kind of a crazy one. After, you know, Rush was hired, he actually did a really good job of gathering the team through the end of the pandemic— the opposite end of the pandemic, as far as the effect that it had on no spring practices and everything having to be done virtually. And then, of course, we got to the season. And, you know, I think the guy did one of the best coaching jobs that he maybe ever done with what he had. Led the camps to after a tumultuous start of the season, had some tough losses. But he comes back, leads Valdosta to the semifinals and one of the toughest classifications in the state. And they ran into a buzzsaw at Buford. No, you know, no shame there. And then, of course, after that, you know, instead of celebrating the season, the victory, and — that's when things began to unravel when the audio recording was released to the public and the fallout, of course, as you guys know, has not really let up since then.
Jon Nelson: Phil Jones of ITG Next, The Extra Point sports program, that can be seen on their Facebook and whatever social media you wish to follow ITG Next on is hanging out with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Hannah with the follow up.
Hannah Goodin: So just you're down there in the thick of it. Tell us what these audio recordings said, for those of — the most of the listeners know what's going on, but for anyone listening that doesn't know what's going on, give us an insight about what those audio recordings were all about and what the fallout was following them.
Phil Jones: OK, so it was a conversation between Michael "Nub" Nelson, who at the time was the director of the Touchdown Club, which is the primary booster club for the — for the Wildcat football team, and Rush himself. Of course, Rush had no idea that he was being recorded — and Rush made comments about needing money on hand to help with the recruiting players to Valdosta, their families to the Valdosta. He made references to certain college programs that did the same thing. He made references to his past when, you know, he had done things similar to this at Hoover. And obviously, some yes, some things that, you know, once they were out there for the public to hear, there was really no turning back. And that really brings us to where we are, you know, today with the latest, well, the penalties handed down by the GHSA and the subsequent appeals that are being heard as we speak.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, and obviously we haven't come to any kind of a conclusion where the appeals are. But when it comes to —when it comes to — to Rush as an individual, I mean, ever since he was up the road in Moultrie at Colquitt, there is no doubt there is no disputing that Rush Propst is a winning football coach. He will come into your town, he will come in with your program, and he will win. It may take a while, but he will turn it into a winner. And when he and I talked when he got the Valdosta job, he said "It usually takes me about 18 months to turn around a program. I have to do this in four." And you could tell —
Hannah Goodin: Pressure was on.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, I mean, it's self-imposed, too. But — but at the same time, Valdosta knew what they were getting when it came to Rush Propst as a football coach. All they had to do was look 45 minutes up the road.
Phil Jones: Yeah, yeah, no doubt about that, and we'll go back to that, you know, that situation, as far as, you know, knowing what they were getting. So if you'll remember — and Hannah, this goes back to the earlier conversation that you referenced at the beginning of our conversation here today. So when Coach Rodemaker's contract was not renewed, the — the board that is — the board that was charged with responsibility of finding a new head football coach went through a pretty lengthy process and several different candidates to try to, you know, obviously to find the replacement for Rodemaker. I don't think Rush was at the top of the list to begin with. However, after the search had become fairly exhaustive and I would say winding down, you were left really with very few candidates. In fact, it was probably in the single digits. And Rush, of course, was one of those candidates. And that's when suddenly Rush did move to the top of the list — by default, if you want to call it that — and at the same time, Rush was working hard on getting his teaching certificate renewed or reinstated, I should say. And so it was kind of clear to everyone involved that if Rush could get his certificate reinstated, then he was more than likely going to be the chosen one. And those — those two things happened. And simultaneously once the teaching certificate was indeed reinstated, that's when the search committee had made their decision and decided to bring Rush on board. So that's how that came about. But to go back to what you mentioned earlier, Jon, yeah, they they knew what they were getting, I guess, you know, with what he had been through. But, you know, I think there was a, you know, a portion of the decision that said, hey, you know, he was investigated, his taking certificate has been reinstated.
Jon Nelson: Right.
Phil Jones: So we feel like he deserves a second chance. So I think you got to keep that in mind as well.
Jon Nelson: No question. And when you know, when you talk to a man who is as driven as Rush Propst is. And you know what his focus is when he comes into a program? I mean, it's there are very few individuals that we will come across in this — in this sport that are like Rush Propst. What is it like for you when you've had to to be with Rush in your environment, whether it's up the road in Moultrie or down there in Valdosta?
Phil Jones: You mean in terms of working with him from a media relationship?
Jon Nelson: Yeah, from a — from a media standpoint. And when you get to kind of pull back the curtain a little bit, what's it been like to see him work as he does and as he did both in Moultrie and in Valdosta? What's it like to to be in that Rush Propst orbit?
Phil Jones: It's all inspiring, the — listen, the work ethic is second to none. You're talking about a guy that gets up, you know, before most of us do.
Jon Nelson: He had his own drink named for him at the Starbucks in Moultrie.
Phil Jones: Exactly. I mean, you know, I think his work, his work ethic, his long days are, you know, the stuff that legends are made of. I mean, he just kind of goes back into his days, even at Hoover. So, again, the work — work ethic cannot be denied. And so when you're around and you see this, you see why he is as successful as he is. The guy's a bulldog. He knows what he wants. He knows how to go after it. You know, it was pretty well known that on Sundays and I don't know, you know, how Rush defers to the coaches, you know, taking care of their, you know, religious doings on Sunday. None of my business. But it was pretty well known that Sundays were kind of a start early and we're going to finish late kind of thing. That's when the game plan was developed. And I mean, it was, you know, 12, 13-hour days and they weren't intense. So, again, you kind of got a glimpse into that. And I was fortunate to have done that. And again, you start to see why he is or why he is who he is and how he's arrived where he's arrived in terms of a professional standpoint in the wins and the losses.
Hannah Goodin: There's two sides to that, though, you either love him or you hate him. There's right. There's wrong.
Phil Jones: Yep.
Hannah Goodin: I do think he's a great coach. I know all of this is hearsay. Nothing has been confirmed or proven yet, but there has been some pretty shady allegations against him. What's next for Titletown? I know that you sometimes get to talk to Rush on the side. What has he said? What is your opinion? How do — does Valdosta move on from this? I got the the honor of having the last question. So this is like 10 questions in one, Phil. Because we are — we are — we only have a little more time with you. So all encompassing: You know, what — what's next for Titletown and how does — and what does Rush think?
Phil Jones: Well, let me...
Jon Nelson: Time for the all-encompassing answer, Phil.
Phil Jones: Absolutely no worries, we can handle it. So let me answer your last question first and we're going to go backwards from there. As far as what Rush thinks: He's — he's down right now. I do talk to Rush regularly. I've maintained that contact with him since all this happened and actually before this happened. I mean, that's that's one of the things about Rush. Now, we've maintained a pretty good relationship. You know, even when he was at Colquitt, when he was in between jobs, you know, when he was over in Alabama, maintained conversations with him and of course, since he arrived in Valdosta. But right now, he is — his spirit is definitely broken. You can tell and he has said those things to me. He has said, "Look, I've been down before, but never like this." Because you go back to what I just described: the long work days. Football is the man's life. Yes, he hunts a little bit. But when you talk about people's hobbies, what do they do in their spare time? Well, Rush has no spare time.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, "Rush is football" is his spare time.
Phil Jones: That's right. Rush is football. As far as what — where does Titletown go from here? That's a really good question, because I'll tell you: Just like the coach, right now this town, the community, is reeling from everything that's happened. You've got a fragmented coaching staff. You've had coaches, assistant coaches that have left. You've got questions within the coaching staff as far as who, if anyone, could be named the interim coach who, you know, is going to stay, who's going to go. And I think, and parents to the coaches, they have no idea really what the future holds. I think a lot is looming on this appeals process, that's, again, that's going on as we speak, as we have this — this interview. And then, of course, it'll come down to whether Rush is retained or not. And so, again, the support for Valdosta, again, the supporters of Valdosta are really again, they're reeling from this whole thing. You got to remember, there's a football team that, again, advanced to the semifinals last year — were expected to be one of the better teams moving forward in Class AAAAAA. Now, we know — again, if the, if the appeals or if the, the penalties are upheld — that this team is going to have no shot at postseason play. You've got to wonder how that's going to, you know, reflect and the on-field morale. You have to think of these kids are going to go out and play their hearts out regardless. But, you know, I do a show, as you guys have mentioned, and right now it — all the news coming out of Valdosta instead of, you know, the winningest high school football program talking about football on the field, we're talking about anything but.
Jon Nelson: Yep.
Phil Jones: Right now, and that's — that, that goes against everything that Titletown stands for.
Jon Nelson: All right, Phil, for those that want to keep an eye on everything going on in your part of the world, how do they do it and how do they watch Extra Point and keep an eye and keep an ear on what you're doing down there?
Phil Jones: Yes. So we are live on our Facebook page, ITGNext.com. And you can check out the show live 5 to 7 every day at our Facebook page. You can also go back and check out the show, either in audio or both video and audio form, wherever your favorite podcasts are found. Apple podcasts, Spotify. Spreaker. Again, you can find it pretty much anywhere. And hey, if you are challenged in terms of what the heck did he just say? Well, simply go in and Google "Extra Point with Phil Jones." It'll pop up, you'll find it. And there you can check out the show again. All the shows are archived.
Jon Nelson: Right there with you, my friend. As always, Phil, thanks for bringing your expertize to all of this discussion when it comes to everything going on down there in south Georgia. Thanks again, my friend. We'll be catching up with you soon because we know that there will be more that goes on with this story as it continues to turn. And we haven't even had spring practice down there yet. Once again, my friend, thanks again.
Phil Jones: To be continued. Jon, Hannah, thanks for having me.
Hannah Goodin: Thanks, Phil.
Jon Nelson: One guest down, one to go, and it's time for the man batting second in the order this go round, it's the host of The X's and O's Morning Show down on Fox Sports Radio, Valdosta, Spencer Van Horn. Spencer, thanks for hanging out with me and Hannah here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast.
Spenser Van Horn: Well, thank you for having me. It's always a pleasure to talk with you, Jon, and Hannah, it's a pleasure to meet you for the first time.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. Great to meet you over the radio waves.
Jon Nelson: See — see, every — everybody wants to meet Hannah. They're just like "Jon. Yeah. Yeah, whatever. You're over there. Hannah. Great to meet you, Jon. Yeah, whatever."
Hannah Goodin: No comment.
Jon Nelson: I see how this works. I see how this works with the both of you. I know how this is going on. This is — what we wanted to do, Spencer, was kind of have you on to talk about about the team and the town and the — just the more the philosophical discussion involving everything that's been going on. As we're talking, that's it's headed to the executive appeals, headed to the executive committee, as we're talking and taping this on Monday. So I want to ask you, as far back as you can remember, with the hiring of Rush Propst — and we're only talking a little over a year — what has it meant to the town of Valdosta, not just to Valdosta, fans of Wildcat football, but to the town. What is it meant to the town to have Rush Propst there considering he was 45 minutes up the road two years ago.
Spencer Van Horn: Yes. So I think it's split down the middle, really and truly. It's — there's some people who, who are — who understand his reputation and, you know, the smoke that has sort of surrounded him at Hoover and at Moultrie. And they're real hesitant. You know, they don't want anything to do with it. They're — at best, they're, you know, cautious to come around. And at worst, they're just, you know, nothing to do with it. And then there's other people on the other side of it, that they're excited, he's a winner. He's — you know, he was exonerated to to a certain degree. And at Moultrie, with the Professional Standards Commission resetting his license, they want to feel good about where their programs go. And they love Valdosta High School. And so they're doing everything they can to try to support the program and try to support the team. And so maybe they might be overlooking things or setting things aside and saying we're going to focus on the football coach, we're going to focus on the football team, and we're not going to worry with all that other stuff. He's our guy. He's here, and we're going to support him.
Hannah Goodin: For those who are not on board with the hiring of Propst, is there an overwhelming feeling of "And I told you so," or did everyone involved just kind of know what they were getting into here?
Spencer Van Horn: Yeah, I think there is a sense of "I told you so." The folks that I've talked to just sort of, you know, around the water cooler, it's been along those lines, but it's also come with a degree of, you know, sour grapes that "We would love to have been wrong, we would have loved to to you know, this would have been a turnaround, we would have loved for this to have, you know, been something different and for it to have worked out. We don't want it to be we're not cheering about being right necessarily, because being right means that the program suffers." And I think there's a lot of people who are sort of conflicted about their "Yeah, I told you so."
Jon Nelson: And Spencer, I mean, there are so many tentacles to this — to this — to really what's going on on a bunch of different levels. But for someone who has never — you hear about Valdosta High School football, you hear about the legacies of Nick Hyder and Wright Bazemore. And and, you know, Rick Darlington, Rick Tomin, Alan Rodemaker winning a state championship. For those who've never been to a Winnersville Classic. For those who'd never seen Valdosta football up close, what does Wildcat football mean to that section of Valdosta in south Georgia?
Spencer Van Horn: You know, it's when you hear about small-town communities closing down shop for, you know, to travel up to the big, you know, for the big game, that's — that's exactly what it is here. You go over to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium or Martin Stadium and it's jam-packed, wall-to-wall, standing-room-only on each side. And that's what this community comes together for. It seems like we're all here and we've all been here for a long time. Either you grew up a Wildcat from when you were real little and it was installed in you then, and then you just grew up with it and you stayed in the town and you had a family and then they went to Valdosta. And it's generations on top of generations on top of generations that are Wildcats because they've been around as long as they have. And the same thing is happening for the Lowndes High Vikings as well. So it's it's in their blood. It's all they know. And that's — that's what leads to what you get on a Friday night when there's 10,000 people in the stadium and half of it's crimson and cream and the other half is gold and black.
Hannah Goodin: With all that being said, how has this dark cloud of scandal, starting with the Alan Rodemaker allegations and now Rush Propst and all of the allegations, how has this affected the community? And what are people saying?
Spencer Van Horn: Yes, so, again, I think you go back to being split down the middle, I think there's a lot of people who are, you know, who are — I feel like there are a good amount of folks in south Georgia who feel like the GHSA is out to get them, that the GHSA is out to get south Georgia. That and I'm sure you guys have heard of it, that, you know, that there's this idea that they only care about the Atlanta schools and that everybody down here gets shortchanged. And so I think there is a sense of an element that the GHSA is attacking us and that if I've read it several times on a Facebook post or wherever else, that "Man, if the GHSA would just go and, you know, investigate those Atlanta schools, we wouldn't be able to play this season because they'd all be in trouble. And they're all doing it, too." And there's a sense of this dark cloud has sort of made everybody want to point fingers and say, "Well, yeah, they're doing it, too. Why are we the only ones getting in trouble?"
Hannah Goodin: Interesting.
Jon Nelson: And Spencer, I mean, you and I know this from all the time that we've spent covering high school football. I mean, for Valdosta not to be in a national championship discussion, not to be in a state championship discussion, having only won the the one Alan Rodemaker championship in a — in a handful of years going back. I mean, this is a program that has been relevant nationally. I mean, number one in U.S. history for wins for a program in its entirety. For them not to be a part of a national discussion — it's been something that — it's — it's been something that they've been unfamiliar with. And now it's — and they've been uncomfortable with now for a very long period of time short of that one state championship a couple of years ago.
Spencer Van Horn: Yeah, and you can tag that along to sort of the — the questions from, you know, kind of the conversations from earlier so we can swing this back around it. That's a big part of why some people are — they want to accept the great football coach that is Rush Propst, because they want to get back to that level. That they want to not just — it's not just state championships and it's not just the deep run in the playoffs, but it's that national level that we want to get back to. And it's also not having blowout losses to your rivals in Lowndes and not having blowout losses to your rivals in Moultrie. They want to they want to own those things. They want to own the state championship tournament. They want to own the national spotlight as well. They want that — the — they're thirsty for having that again here in this town. The reason we're Titletown, Valdosta State's great and Lownes is great. We got a lot of other great things here, but the reason that this is Titletown and the reason that this was voted that way by ESPN was Valdosta High School football. And so that — that the program wants to get back there. And that's one reason why they accepted or they're trying to accept Rush Propst as much as they can.
Hannah Goodin: It's not all coaching. It does take a team to win a championship. And something we haven't touched on yet is the team in the support staff. How are they feeling during all of this? You know, we're recording this up in Atlanta. You're down there in the thick of it. How is the team and the support staff and everyone surrounding them feeling about all of this? What's being said?
Spencer Van Horn: Yes, so I've seen a couple of Facebook posts about "We just want to play." You know, the athletes who have made voices here and there, "We just want to play." I don't recall any specific names, but I've also spoken with a couple of people as well, that the football team is sort of, they're — they're trying to put their heads down and they're just going to work. They're sort of trying to rally around this as us against the world or us against, you know, whoever else and put that chip on their shoulder and, you know, sort of make this about something that they can come around with in terms of the suspensions or in terms of Coach Propst. I don't know the details specifically, but the coaches that are there, that are working with the kids in the weight room, they're really trying to just make it a rallying point that, "Hey, they're doubting you now" or, "Hey, you're going to be counted out now" or "You're going to be looked over now because you can't do this." And, you know, it's a rallying opportunity for them to try to to have the best regular season that they can with the way things are standing right now.
Jon Nelson: And nothing like having to do it the week before spring practice. Right.
Spencer Van Horn: Yeah, yeah, exactly, so and and I'm sure the coaches that are there — and I don't, again, I don't know all the details — but I know with the coaches that are there, I'm sure there's a — there's an element of just, you know, we've got to put our heads down, too, and we just got to go forward with what we know. And we can't really worry about what's still up in the air, which hopefully we'll have something here soon.
Jon Nelson: Spencer Van Horn, host of the X's and O's morning show, Fox Sports Radio Valdosta. Spencer, as always, it's great to catch up with you. Great to hear your voice and glad that you and Hannah could actually meet in an audio sense, because I know that hearing her voice is far better than mine.
Spencer Van Horn: Well, you know, I wasn't going to say anything, but yes. And it was very lovely to meet you and Jon, you know, whatever.
Hannah Goodin: Nice to meet. Nice to meet you, too. Yeah. Jon's just here spitting spit into the mike.
Jon Nelson: Yes. Spitting into the mic. Spencer, be good, we will catch up with you —
Hannah Goodin: Let's give Spencer a chance to get himself a little plug —
Jon Nelson: OK, yes, yes. I forgot to look at your rundown —
Hannah Goodin: — remember, we talked about this.
Jon Nelson: — before we get rid of the guest, OK.
Hannah Goodin: Spencer, give us your Twitter handle and all the things.
Jon Nelson: There you go. The best way to get in touch and hang out with you socially and listen to what you're doing down there at FSR.
Spencer Van Horn: Well, see, that — that's why everybody likes Hannah better than they like you, Jon. So you can check us out online at FoxSports Valdosta.com. That's a — that's a way you can listen to the stream. And I'm on Twitter, just my name, I think Spencer_VanHorn. And then I'm on Instagram as well there. Spencer_VanHorn. And like I said, FoxSportsValdosta.com. We're on 7 to 9 in the morning down here in Valdosta.
Hannah Goodin I'm following you right now. So everyone else should too.
Spencer Van Horn: Perfect. I appreciate that.
Hannah Goodin: Wow, Jon, that is a lot to digest.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, and that's what this story has been. And I mean, there are a lot of different tentacles to it. There are a lot of different angles to it. I mean, it's the lawsuit involving the Rodemakers and the city board of education. It's the deposition that was put in by Nub Nelson that was a part of the lawsuit. And then you have everything that came out of it where the audiotape, where the voice is alleged to be Rush. And he's saying things about college football and keeping college athletes and how he did things it — how this individual did things at other institutions and other states. And so, you know, the NCAA comes in and asks questions. I mean, this is — it is a story of the highest order when it comes to the importance of high school football. And I think that also what it is, is that what it demonstrates, what it can do and what it does to towns that love their teams as much as they do. And you have, sadly, stories that are like this.
Hannah Goodin: Well, this story is not at the state level, this is at the national level. This ripple effect, how do you think it's going to affect high school football nationwide?
Jon Nelson: Sadly, I don't know if it will, because, you know, there's always going to be —
Hannah Goodin: The eye-opening of paying — possibly, allegedly — paying players of the high school level.
Jon Nelson: Uh uh. I mean, it's just how things are things are these days and — winning at all costs. And I think that that's the lesson here, is winning at all costs. And it's a continuing story. It's not just one that's over as we finish the show. It's a continuing lesson about that idea and what it means to the sport and what it means to these communities and what it means to these towns. And I think that there's always going to be, sadly, there's always going to be a next. I don't think that just because whenever this whenever this ends in Valdosta, in whatever ending it is, I don't think it's going to be the last time, sadly, that we talk about it, considering how things have changed over time.
Hannah Goodin: And again as we record this April 19th, Monday, we are still waiting for the verdict from the meeting this morning, correct?
Jon Nelson: Yeah, the executive committee, we're still waiting on it. And so we'll keep an eye on that. And obviously, look at GPB, GPB.org, and the GPB Sports App will have you as up to date as we can be when it comes to everything, when it comes to high school athletics in the state of Georgia, high school football in state of Georgia, and specifically what's been going on down in Valdosta?
Hannah Goodin: Absolutely. Jon will have something out as soon as there's a verdict out.
Jon Nelson: See, now, she's already put the assignment on me. I like how this goes. I signed our executive executive, Sandy Malcolm, is on the other side of the glass and she's already laughing with the double thumbs up because since you've already bestowed that on me —!
Hannah Goodin: I'm assigning you work.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, you've assigned me work. Sandy's got the double thumbs up. It's like, "Yeah, he's going to do it!" I like — I like this double-teaming here. It's a two-on-one fast break just before we get out the door. I see how this works.
Hannah Goodin: Jon, you got it. You got it.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Yeah, apparently I do.
Hannah Goodin: Talented writer. You got it.
Jon Nelson: I apparently do. So we'll see what happens. So once again, that's another go-'round. Wait, let me — before I toss: Is your rundown complete?
Hannah Goodin: Well, we covered social media. We've already talked about the schedules. Shows will be coming back in August. We can give an update on those as we get closer. But I think — you know what? You covered it. We're good.
Jon Nelson: OK.
Hannah Goodin: Rundown complete.
Jon Nelson: So now that Hanna's rundown is complete, that's it for another round of the Football Fridays In Georgia podcast, here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Once again, thanks for accessing us, however you are doing so: Large device or small, GPB, GPB.org, the GPB Sports App. Go to your favorite podcast catcher or download, like, save, remember whatever the kids do these days to make sure that they mark every single time that there's a new podcast out here at GPB, not just with GPB Sports, although we love it when you do hang out with us and always comment like friend, be a part of the conversation. All of our social media networks, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, subscribe to all four of those if you haven't already, because we're coming up on some really big round numbers for likes and followers on social media. And, you know, we can't thank everybody enough for being a part of the whole conversation, not just during football season, but all year long, because, as we know, the four seasons here in the state of Georgia are not summer, fall, winter and spring. It is football, spring football, recruiting and National Signing Day.
Hannah Goodin: Absolutely.
Jon Nelson: For Hannah. I'm Jon. That's it. Play it safe, everybody. Enjoy the games.