ESPN is known for highlighting the best high school football teams across the country early in football seasons. This gives younger players a chance to shine before college football and NFL season are over.
IMG Academy is a Florida prep school that is consistently ranked among the best in America. It is also home to future Division I and NFL players. The opponent in Sunday’s Hall of Fame Classic in Canton, Ohio was also said to have been loaded with Division I players. ESPN decided to expand the match.
But, Bishop Sycamore was not a talented opponent to the Ascenders. Perhaps it was not rested. It could be a school that isn’t. The final score was 58 to 0.
How did ESPN end up broadcasting such a flop? Sporting News dives in.
Is Bishop Sycamore located?
Bishop Sycamore seems to be located in Columbus, Ohio.
This doesn’t mean that this school is legitimate. Schools with the “Bishop” in their names tend to be named after local bishops, or for other prominent bishops. The Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, the city in which Bishop Sycamore claims to be based, does not list anyone named Bishop Sycamore in its history.
The next question is what type of school Bishop Sycamore actually attends. According to the Massillon Independent, Bishop Sycamore is an online charter school. It is not listed among the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s directory of schools and the Independent reports it is a non-OHSAA school. The team is instead listed as an out-of-state school by the Texas Christian Athletic League.
Football history of Bishop Sycamore
What football experience does the Centurions possess? It would seem that the Centurions have very little football experience as a group. Individual players may be more important than high school athletes.
The website for the school has five blog posts, the most recent coming on May 21, and nothing in its section on “About Us” or “Staff” and the “Schedule” tab just says “2021 Schedule coming soon.” The page for “Camps” includes 12 entries on the 2021 schedule, most of which are Division I programs such as Clemson and Georgia.
A GoFundMe page in the team’s name was set up on Aug. 21 saying that it is a “new football program getting established in Columbus” and says it plays “a national schedule which is ranked 4th in the nation.” The goal is to raise $140.
On MaxPreps, the team’s schedule is loaded with several other football teams in eight different states, including national powerhouse Duncanville in Dallas. According to the team’s last season schedule, it was 0-6 with a 227-42 score. This is the only schedule listed on MaxPreps.
Sto-Rox was not on the team’s schedule. It is a match against a high school from Allegheny County Pennsylvania on Friday. But according to TribLive, Sto-Rox beat Bishop Sycamore 19-7. Their schedule for 2021 did not include a game against Akron Archbishop Holan. This matchup was played on August 19.
The team doesn’t seem to have spent much time together. However, it raises more questions. An Archbishop Holan reporter shared what he had been told before the match.
This is what you can imagine. Imagine that.
This is the “roster” we were given when they played Archbishop Hoban last week… pic.twitter.com/e51OJCAuOA
— Ryan (@Isley23)August 29, 2021
Many players may have graduated from high school in other states and are now on the roster. Jailen Knight was the quarterback who played against IMG Academy. His Twitter account stated that he was a three star prospect for 2023, and his bio linked him to a Hudl page about Perry Hall High School, Baltimore, Maryland. Meanwhile, a 247Sports recruiting page lists Knight as an unrecruited QB, who graduated in 2021. Trillian Harris is listed on Hudl to be a Senior quarterback at Bishop Sycamore. A 247Sports page lists Knight as a California QB for the 2021 class. Video footage taken from his Hudl page seems to indicate that he was a Mission Viejo player. Javan Peterson, a lineman on Hudl is listed as a junior. However his timeline highlights highlight from 2018 — which would be a 2021 graduate — when he was playing for CoF Academy in Columbus.
It doesn’t matter if Bishop Sycamore really is an actual school that is trying to enter Ohio high school football. Two games against the top Ohio prospects in just three days is extremely dangerous. It’s an ugly game, and it should not have started.
What is the secret to this?
This was a question that even ESPN’s television crew couldn’t answer.
Play-by-play commentator Anish Shroff said midway during the second quarter, with IMG Academy leading 30-0, that the school told them they had “a number of Division I prospects on their roster.”
Shroff stated, “To be farnk,” that a lot was not verified and did not appear in our database. They also did not appear in other databases. It’s fine if you tell us that, it’s okay. That’s how we handle it. This is not fair and you need to worry about safety and health.
Analyst Tom Luginbill responded that he was concerned about the game and said that it wasn’t just a mismatch in talent, but that Bishop Sycamore did not seem to have enough depth should the players become tired.
According to Awful Announcing, the game was scheduled by Paragon Marketing Group. According to the report, Paragon President Rashid Ghazi stated that the group didn’t know that Bishop Sycamore was playing a game Friday and would have cancelled the game if they did. Ghazi also stated that the company wishes it had done better research on the team.
Paragon secured the matchup, and manages most of the high school events scheduling. We regret this. “They have assured us that they will make sure this situation doesn’t happen moving forward,” ESPN Communications stated in a statement.
Publiated at Mon, 30 August 2021 16:03.15 +0000