ESPN broadcast a high school football game on Sunday between IMG Academy – an athletic powerhouse that regularly produces NFL, MLB and NBA players – and the unknown Bishop Sycamore out of Ohio. It was a 58-0 blowout, but this was not your run-in-the-mill high school football game.
Throughout the nationally-televised butt-kicking, it became increasingly clear that the circumstances around the game were well beyond the realm of ordinary.
During the second quarter, with IMG already holding a 30-0 lead and making it blatantly clear Bishop Sycamore didn’t belong on the field with them, ESPN announcers Anish Shroff and Tom Luginbill launched into a tirade against their own network – with some revealing comments about how the game came to be.
“You look at IMG and this is the most talented prep team in the country,” Shroff said. “Bishop Sycamore told us they had a number of Division I prospects on their roster, and to be frank, a lot of that, we could not verify. They did not show up in our database, they did not show up in the databases of other recruiting services. So, OK, that’s what you’re telling us, fine, that’s how we take it in. From what we’ve seen so far, this is not a fair fight, and there’s got to be a point where you’re worried about health and safety.
“I already am worried about it,” Luginbill said. “I think this could potentially be dangerous given the circumstances and the mismatch that we have here. And quite honestly, Bishop Sycamore doesn’t have not only the front-line players, but they don’t have the depth in case something were to happen to their roster with a kid or two here throughout the remaining two quarters of this football game.”
You heard that correctly – Bishop Sycamore apparently told ESPN they had a number of top prospects on their team, and the network then took them at their word and put them on TV against the best team in the country.
Claims which don’t take long to debunk. None of Ohio’s top 50 prospects in either the class of 2022 or 2023 go to Bishop Sycamore, per Rivals. MaxPreps only started recording their wins and losses last season, and since then, they have A) yet to win a game and B) only scored more than eight points once in eight tries.
The story gets even weirder. Josh Jenkins, a quarterback for Bishop Sycamore, posted a video of his team playing on Friday – just two days before the ESPN game against IMG Academy. Not only were they playing a team that was significantly better than them, they were doing it on a measly two days rest.
Even stranger, Bishop Sycamore is not even a fully-functional high school – it’s an online-only charter school not affiliated with the Ohio High School Athletic Association, per an article in The Independent.
Any way you slice it, it was extremely dangerous for Bishop Sycamore to be out there. Paragon Marketing Group, the schedule makers, told Awful Announcing they didn’t know the team had played just two days before the ESPN game, and would have cancelled it had they been aware.
So, did Bishop Sycamore lie to everyone and dupe their way into a national spotlight, risking their players’ health and safety in the process? It certainly seems like it.
“Sorry. They had no business being in that game today. None,” Shroff tweeted after the game. “I feel bad for the kids. Player health and safety was at risk today. It was uncomfortable for anyone who watched.”