By now you’ve probably heard a recording allegedly featuring Valdosta High football coach Rush Propst telling the president of Valdosta’s booster club that Georgia and Alabama I’ve been paying players in southwest Georgia six figure sums to sign with the schools. If you haven’t and feel inclined the tape is here.
It’s a little noteworthy because Propst names specific boosters in both Georgia and Alabama who he claims are involved in the payments. That includes former UGA letterman, Auburn offensive line coach, and current Albany businessman Hugh Nall.
Three things bear noting here. One is that every SEC football program has bag men. Ditto for the top programs in the ACC, Big XII, Big Ten, and probably the PAC-12 to boot. Have for decades. Not every recruit is getting paid, but some in fact are, especially the ones who let it be known that they’re looking to get paid.
Another is that the bag men are rarely well-known former college football coaches or other similarly prominent individuals. You will never see a picture of any school’s bag men with the head coach. It destroys plausible deniability.
A final one is that Rush Propst has been fired from more prestigious high school football jobs than most coaches will ever be hired for because of a touch-and-go relationship with the truth. Propst has always been a big talker, whether he actually knows what he’s talking about or not. And if Propst is talking he probably has an agenda. The guy is not an investigative reporter out running down truth for its own sake.
With those preliminaries out of the way, the allegation that really sticks out from the tape in Propst’s claim that Nick Chubb was paid three installments of $60,000 apiece, $180,000 in total, to come back for his senior season rather than turn pro.
It’s a pretty serious allegation, one which if true would certainly invalidate Georgia’s SEC Championship 2017 season. That being said, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Remember that Chubb was still recovering from a serious knee injury at the conclusion of the 2016 season. His draft stock wasn’t exactly sky high.
What’s more, it’s unclear how Propst would have come by direct knowledge of a payment to the former Cedartown star he never coached. The whole thing sounds a lot more like scuttlebutt than anything else. The kind of stuff “heard from a guy who heard it from a guy who’d know” that you hear if you spend any significant time talking to high school football coaches. As Mia Wallace said in Pulp Fiction, those little scamps gossip worse than a sewing circle.
Finally, the big hound from Cedartown himself says it just isn’t true:
Frankly, that’s good enough for me.
Expect to continue to hear this kind of thing for as long as Georgia continues to clean up on the recruiting trail. If I were a Florida fan I’d much prefer to hear that Kirby and Saban are buying players than that Dan Mullen is a creepy little dude who sometimes makes recruits and their families feel uncomfortable. That’s just human nature.