We have written a good bit recently about Hoover High School and its ongoing football/academic controversy. And we've focused on two colorful personalities--Taylor Hicks and Rush Propst.
We've noted that Hicks, the 2006 American Idol, is almost certainly the most famous graduate of Hoover High. And he was a pretty fair athlete in his day, playing on the Bucs basketball team.
The second most famous person connected to Hoover High might be Propst, the controversial football coach. Thanks to his team's No. 1 national ranking and its central role in MTV's Two A Days, Propst became maybe the most high-profile high school coach in history.
Propst found remarkable success on the field, but problems off the field led to the recent announcement that he would step down as coach at the end of this season. Hicks meanwhile produced his debut major-label CD and a nationwide tour. His rabid fan base, the "Soul Patrol," awaits his followup efforts.
But here's an interesting thought: Have Taylor Hicks and Rush Propst ever met? To my knowledge, they haven't. Hicks graduated from Hoover in 1995. Propst was hired as football coach in early 1999.
The mid 1990s were a rough patch for the proud Hoover football program. One problem, according to news reports, was that a number of the school's better athletes had lost interest in football. Upon becoming coach, one of Propst's first goals reportedly was to scout the hallways for athletes and get them to come out for the football team.
So what if Taylor Hicks had been about four years younger and was still on the Hoover campus when Rush Propst arrived? What if Propst had spotted Hicks in the hallway and saw a future wide receiver, not a singer? Let's imagine that conversation . . .
Rush Propst: Hey son, I need you on my team.
Taylor Hicks: Woo-hoo!
RP: You ever play before?
TH: I play all the time, man.
RP: Where do you play?
TH: Small clubs mostly.
RP: Well, get ready for the big time, son; we're going to pack stadiums.
TH: Woo-hoo! Just like the Stones!
RP: You ready to go places?
TH: Sure. Nashville, LA, you name it.
RP: Well, first we're going to go to Vestavia Hills and kick their butts. We might hit those other places later.
TH: You travel in a bus?
RP: Sure. We go first class all the way.
RP: Son, I need guys with big dreams. What are your dreams?
TH: I want to make the Top 40.
RP: Top 40? Hell, son, we're going straight to No. 1.
TH: Woo-hoo! I like the way you think, man. You must have one heckuva promotions department at your label.
RP: It's not about promotion, son. It's all about hard work. With lots of hard work, we'll rule the Super Six.
TH: Super Six? Are they anything like the Fab Four?
RP: Not sure. I just know I need guys who have positive role models. Who's your hero, son.
TH: Ray Charles.
RP: What position does he play?
TH: Upright, mostly.
RP: Must have been a low draft choice. Never heard of him. Who's another hero?
TH: Otis Redding.
RP: Didn't he play for the Raiders?
TH: Paul Revere and the Raiders? You must be kidding, man. Otis had soul!
RP: Too much soul on my team will get you a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
TH: Hey, I can't play without soul.
RP: OK, but just do it when the refs aren't watching.
TH: I hear you, dude.
RP: I need guys who are tough. Can you get physical?
TH: I don't know. But something tells me I might want to cold-cock a smart-aleck British guy someday.
RP: British guy, huh? That's weird. But it's a start. Ever make a touchdown?
TH: Well, I hear lead singers score quite a bit--more than bass players, anyway.
RP: This Bass Player fellow, can he block?
TH: Don't know, but he's got rhythm.
RP: Hmmm, might make a running back. Bring him along.
TH: Woo-hoo! What about the sax?
RP: Shhh, be quiet. You can get in trouble for that around here.
TH: No, I mean "sax," my sax player.
RP: Let me guess, he's got soul, right?
TH: Sure does. And he's great on solos.
RP: Hmmm, could be good on isolation plays. Bring him along. But remember: There's no "I" in team.
TH: Got it. Sounds like you're going to have a pretty big group.
RP: Gotta have numbers. That's why I've been up and down these halls. Hell of a day.
TH: Hell of a Day? That sounds like a good name for a song!
RP: Say, you mentioned scoring. Sounds like you do pretty well with the ladies. That's my second favorite sport. What's your secret?
TH: Two things.
RP: I'm listening.
TH: Gray hair . . .
RP: Got that.
TH: And the harmonica.
TH: Sure, learn to play that, and it leaves 'em defenseless.
RP: Defenseless? That's what we're going to do to Vestavia Hills.
TH: Whatever you say, man.
RP: Tell you what, you teach me harmonica and I'll let you play anywhere you want. Deal?
TH: Deal? The Deal? Man, you're full of good song titles!
RP: Anybody ever tell you you're strange, son?
TH: Soul Patrol!
RP: Ooooooh-kaaaay. You're a bit of a free spirit, but I could use a few of those. From now on you are one of the Bucs.
TH: The Bucs? That's the name of your group?
RP: Sure, and we're going to be known nationwide. I even see us making it on MTV.
TH: Wow, you're the kind of guy I want to play for. Think we'll even do videos?
RP: Sure, I watch tape all the time.
TH: Man, you are with it! When's our first gig?
RP: Well, we've got to practice first. And that's every day after school. See you at the stadium.
TH: The same one we're going to pack?
RP: The very one.