Some stories are so bizarre that it is impossible to believe that they are real. This is one of those stories.
On Sunday, ESPN televised a high school football game that featured perennial power IMG Academy and unheralded Ohio high school Bishop Sycamore. As expected, IMG Academy, a program that has produced nearly two dozen NFL players, beat Bishop Sycamore by 58 points. However, fans didn't expect ESPN commentators Anish Shroff and Tom Luginbill to point out a few startling details about the Ohio program as the game unfolded.
"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, okay, 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," the two announcers said, according to Awful Announcing.
“I already am worried about it. 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.”
After Luginbill and Shroff raised questions about the program, reporters started to look into the matter as well. USA Today learned that many of the school's players are junior college athletes and the team has a small roster with approximately 35 people. Moreover, the team had played two games in three days with mismatched uniforms. To top it all off, FOX News reports that the team's head coach, Roy Johnson, has an active arrest warrant for failing to appear in a domestic violence case.
Within the last 72 hours, a number of former Bishop Sycamore players have called out the online high school for its dangerous practices. Former Bishop Sycamore recruit Aaron Boyd claims the school has no campus, players stayed in a hotel and many of his teammates were 19 or 20 years old.
"The head coach of Bishop Sycamore wasn’t the head coach. He was like an athletic director. He was the [man] that was behind all of it. He was writing bounced checks for everything. For everything. We never paid for anything," Boyd told Complex.
"Bruh, I don’t know about JUCO kids, but I tell you I was 15 and everybody else was 19 and 20. I got videos on my phone right now. Whatever you want to see, I got videos of. People sleeping on the floor. We didn’t have practice, we just went to games. You see how it said they played two games in three days, we really did that. We ain’t practice, we just went to games."
While there are serious allegations of fraud and youth endangerment tied to this story, Twitter did what it always does when something like this happens -- make jokes.
It does not appear that Bishop Sycamore will play another game this season. ESPN has also issued an apology for airing the game,
“We regret that this happened and have discussed it with Paragon, which secured the matchup and handles the majority of our high school event scheduling. They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward," the statement reads.