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ESPN Is On The Hot Seat

The first time you may have heard of Bishop Sycamore HS would be from this viral clip of Josh Bogan, a Post Grad attending the school at 20 years old. This past weekend the school went viral once again for a very different reason. You see teams get blown out by IMG Academy all the time, but this time it was much, much worse.

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IMG has a hard time finding opponents because their roster is so stacked with 4 and 5 star recruits. As a private school IMG recruits athletes from all across the country to come to their facility and train to be recruited to a D1 powerhouse, go to the NFL, and sign with IMG talent agency where they get a percentage of their career earnings. Pretty decent investment strategy to turn a full ride to IMG in exchange for the possibility of the cut of millions in salary. In Highschool Football, teams aren't going to want to play a private school out of state if it doesn't help them win their section then go to a state championship. That's where teams like Bishop Gorman (where Snoop Dog's son, Muhammed Ali's grandson, and Tate Martell played) play big games or St. Thomas Aquinas (where the Bosa brothers play) compete on the national stage. Public schools' player pools are bound by their district lines and who actually lives near the school, for private or catholic schools they can recruit and give scholarships to players like a college. That's how these private schools like Bishop Gorman or IMG have a huge advantage over say an Allen, Texas. That's how Bishop Sycamore could dupe players around the country.

Bishop Sycamore is a made-up school, designed to sound like a catholic school. There is no Bishop ever named Sycamore. It's a place that tries to recruit talent through the promises of being able to foster young recruits' careers into D1 scholarships. If you visit their website it is a recruiting blog, with no mentions of Academics or any sort of school. The name is supposed to make it sound like a "Bishop Gorman" a private school that can recruit current and post-grad high schoolers. 

Though they are based in Ohio they are registered with the Texas Christian Athletic League. It is also weird that before the IMG game they played two days before on Friday back in Columbus. 

Not only is that super dangerous for players, but the team has a very shallow roster. From the sounds of it, the charter school has two teams put together to get players game tape in front of great talent in order to send to colleges. Their Coach Roy Jones stated that there were two teams, a prep team and a high school team (prep team usually includes post-grad players, IMG same way). One team plays against teams with leagues that allow post-grad players the other is only of kids who have not graduated. 

ESPN expressed their disappointment in the blowout they commented on their Sunday broadcast.

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The mastermind behind this whole debacle is their coach Roy Johnson, a man with an active arrest warrant for fraud charges. You see Bishop Sycamore was the rebrand of his program, originally called Christians of Faith, which now sounds like some of the catholic school powerhouses that could actually compete with IMG. The is technically not a school registered by the state but can exist as a non-chartered, non-tax supported school, that exists on a religious basis. The way these schools are structured is basically homeschooling, many of these types of schools exist amongst the Amish or Hutterite communities. Technically Amish schools are not state-sponsored or registered but they still exist as schools. These schools are supposed to file certain reports with local officials but the Columbus school district where they are supposedly registered has no idea, and the physical address of the school is just an athletic facility.

From a piece by Complex a former player describes how he was recruited to Bishop Sycamore, at the time Christians Of Faith Academy, at an Adidas recruiting camp. The coaching staff promised that this school would be just like Bishop Gorman or IMG, both schools that were popularized by media a lot of High School players consumed such as the short series QB1 with Tate Martell. The brochures and pamphlets legitimized the program. They targeted players who sought college scholarships and were willing to do anything to make it. The coaches marketed themselves as Christians who wanted to help players who were not big recruits and did not have the means to pay for college themselves. This included kids who already graduated high school, as taking Post-grad years is not illegal. In some instances, kids redo their freshman years of high school and then end up taking 2 post-grad years. a 21 year old senior is not that rare even in prestigious New England boarding schools. Now if kids were using fake IDs (Honestly much better use of a fake ID than underage drinking) to game the system on eligibility that's a different story. This could be how the reports of JUCO dropouts end up on the roster. 

Apparently, Roy Johnson's arrest warrants may stem from how he was housing the kids, who were not in any shape or form being educated, by using bad checks to have them stay in hotels and sleeping on floors of various rental property. The kids were sleeping on floors and reports of violence occurred as they were often left unsupervised. Allegedly they never practiced and just played games. The kids apparently stole food to survive from local grocery stores. The unlisted rosters most likely were players not of age, or anyone they could scrap up to play that day. 

How did this school trick Paragon Sports Marketing, as well as to IMG and ESPN into letting them play? I think this really stems from how hard IMG has it to schedule games. You see since IMG is independent in the Florida High School Athletic Association, they have to schedule all their games. Since they end up blowing out almost any team their "National" team plays a lot of these games are with teams they may have to pay to play them. Like how Alabama pays FCS teams to play them. Who do you think would gladly accept money to play IMG more than Bishop Sycamore- a team that apparently can't even feed its players. It is probably extremely hard to fill out a full national schedule of teams who willingly would get blown out. If anyone should get the blame for why this team ended up on ESPN it should be IMG, they played them the year before and blew them out. Their situation was probably obvious last year, why did they schedule them again? Honestly, I would check all the teams IMG plays this year and see how many more fake Bishops or even Saints are involved.

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We talk about this story and more on today's Pardon My Take. We have Jerry O'Connell, Field Yates Helped Us Get Mike Florio Again, and Bryson, Mets, And Cut Day In The NFL. We also continue to watch Hard Knocks for the people at home.