This is a post that, quite frankly, we can’t believe we’re writing in the year 2021.
This afternoon, ESPN broadcast a game between national high school football powerhouse IMG Academy out of Bradenton (Fla.) and Bishop Sycamore from Columbus Ohio. The matchup was part of this weekend’s GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff showcase.
If you’re unfamiliar with IMG Academy, they are routinely one of the best teams in the country, boasting Division I recruits year-in and year-out. Bishop Sycamore, meanwhile, is a rather mysterious online charter school that has only existed for two years and has a considerably less loaded roster.
Anyway, IMG won 58-0. In reality, these two teams never should have been paired up in the first place–except Bishop Sycamore was apparently able to con ESPN into thinking it was a much more established program.
According to the game broadcast, the Worldwide Leader was unable to determine the veracity of the reported scholarship offers for some of the Bishop Sycamore players. As a result, they wound up showing a contest that was, in their announcer’s own words, not “a fair fight.”
ESPN’s commendations WENT IN on Bishop Sycamore 💀 pic.twitter.com/RCJv46gOA3
— Kirk Barton (@kirk_barton) August 29, 2021
This seems hard to fathom. How could ESPN not have realized this wasn’t a legitimate matchup?
Even if you couldn’t verify the reported scholarship offers, a quick search uncovers that Bishop Sycamore went 0-6 last year and was outscored 227-42. They even played IMG in 2020 and lost 56-6.
Combine that with the lack of info out there on the current squad, and countless red flags should have gone up.
This is what happens when ESPN gets duped into airing a high school football game between the most talented team in the country and an online charter school nobody has heard of, went 0-6 last year, and lied about its roster to get on TV. pic.twitter.com/QUwM8BQKiY
— Ben Koo (@bkoo) August 29, 2021
"Bishop Sycamore told us they had a number of Division I prospects on their roster. To be frank, a lot of that we could not verify." — ESPN on air detailing how Bishop Sycamore has duped them.
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) August 29, 2021
Bishop Sycamore went 0-6 last season and were outscored 227-42.
Why are they representing Ohio on ESPN?
And why has IMG Academy played them two years in a row? pic.twitter.com/LUmGzApTVy
— Billy (@BillyK253) August 29, 2021
ESPN broadcast mentioning they couldn’t verify offers Bishop Sycamore claimed its players had….
Was told the same by multiple people.
Zero business playing a school like IMG.
— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) August 29, 2021
Interesting situation on ESPN. ESPN has obviously been fooled into broadcasting a HS football game between IMG and an overmatched online charter school in Ohio called Sycamore Bishop. Embarrassing to watch and someone is going to get hurt. #ESPN
— Nick Belovsky (@oldballcoach22) August 29, 2021
It’s very good that Bishop Sycamore wanted to play this game and I think they should be commended for it but they’re not ready to be on the field with IMG and won’t be for a few years.
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) August 29, 2021
Anyway, good for Bishop Sycamore for getting some brand exposure on national television. Sure they got blown out, but it was undeniably worth it to be on ESPN.
As for IMG, they probably would have been better holding an intrasquad scrimmage, but at least no one got hurt.