By Zach Shugan | Photo by Josh Major
If, by now, you don’t know the story of how one “high school” football team fooled officials into inviting them to play in a nationally televised event against one of the top programs in the country, you should probably sit down and buckle up.
This is a rollercoaster of a story, one filled with insane twists and turns that never seems to end. By the time you finish reading this, there’s a strong possibility new details will have emerged on what some are calling one of the craziest stories of 2021.
The afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 29, viewers who tuned in to ESPN were treated to a high school football game between IMG Academy (FL) and Bishop Sycamore (OH), aired live from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
IMG won 58-0, which is no story by itself considering the program's track record. The story, and what's captured the attention of the sports world in the 48 hours since the game, is the team IMG beat.
For a litany of reasons, Bishop Sycamore never should have played IMG (one of the top teams in the country) in Canton (arguably the most hallowed grounds in football) on ESPN (a network branded as "The Worldwide Leader in Sports").
Minimal information exists on Bishop Sycamore, which says it is an online-only school based out of Columbus, Ohio.
The school's website seems to be unfinished or a work in progress, as the About and Staff pages are currently blank. The team does have a school address listed on its MaxPreps page, but the address belongs to the library at Franklin University in downtown Columbus.
An employee at the library said Bishop Sycamore previously rented a room in the building but no longer does, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
The school is not a member of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, as it doesn't field enough sports teams to meet the necessary criteria. Instead, Bishop Sycamore plays a national schedule. According to MaxPreps, the team has the fourth-toughest 2021 schedule in the entire country.
ESPN was reportedly told of several high-profile recruits on Bishop Sycamore's roster. This, if true, would have made for a much more competitive and safer game. It appears there are no such recruits on the Centurions, however.
No roster or coaching staff is listed for Bishop Sycamore on MaxPreps or SBLive's team page, but the team does appear to have an updated roster on its Hudl page where it posts highlight clips.
Multiple Bishop Sycamore players listed as seniors have old highlight tapes showing them play their senior season for a different team in 2020.
A dive into one player's Twitter account shows he reported offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee and more, but no profile can be found for the player in any of the recruiting databases such as 247Sports or Rivals.