When Bishop Sycamore took the sector in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday to face IMG Academy (Florida), ESPN’s announcers thought they’d be calling a game between two elite high school football teams. It didn’t take long for it to become clear that one among those teams wasn’t what it said it had been . Bishop Sycamore — which claims to be based in Columbus, though there is no address listed on the website, and therefore the “About Us” and “Staff” pages on the location are blank — was overmatched from the start because it took on the No. 2 team within the country, consistent with MaxPreps.
The game quickly caught national attention because it was broadcast on ESPN’s main channel. Social media was aflame with questions on how Bishop Sycamore came to be scheduled for the sport when it clearly wasn’t fit to be playing against a team of IMG’s caliber. Midway through the second quarter, as Bishop Sycamore trailed 30-0, commentator Anish Shroff acknowledged that ESPN hadn’t been ready to find evidence to support Bishop Sycamore’s claims that it brought a roster laden with Division I talent.
“Bishop Sycamore told us that they had a variety of Division I prospects on their roster, and to be frank, tons of that, we couldn’t verify,” Shroff said. “They didn’t show up in our database, they didn’t show up within 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 thus far, this is often not a good fight, and there’s need to be some extent where you’re worried about health and safety.” After the sport, which IMG won 58-0, Shroff skilled comments on Twitter that Bishop Sycamore was the sole school in Ohio willing to play IMG. “Sorry,” Shroff wrote. “They had no business being therein game today. None. I feel bad for the youngsters. Player health and safety were in danger today. it had been uncomfortable for anyone who watched.”