Someone has to make a movie out of this. A phantom high school that appeared last Sunday on a nationally televised ESPN football game has now fired its head coach and raised questions as to whether it even exists as an academic institution.
Bishop Sycamore of Ohio came to national attention when it lost 58-0 to football power IMG Academy of Bradenton, Florida. During the game, it was apparent that the Ohio school was badly outclassed, despite claiming that it had a roster full of top college prospects. Even the game’s broadcast announcers openly questioned the team’s credentials during the game.
It later came out that Bishop Sycamore was playing its second game in three days. Further investigation revealed the school’s listed address was an indoor sports facility, which a spokesman for the building said was a front for a client who would sometimes rent field time. It was then determined that the school was not registered with Ohio’s Dept. of Education, prompting Governor Mike DeWine to call for an investigation.
The school today announced it was firing its head coach, Roy Johnson, in the wake of the debacle. It also saw games against other high school powerhouses scheduled for later this year canceled.
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The firing may be the least of Johnson’s worries. He reportedly faces an active bench warrant in Ohio for failure to appear in a domestic violence case that later was dropped to a criminal mischief charge, and is scheduled for a trial for allegedly defaulting on a $100,000 loan issued by First Merchants Bank.
The game last Sunday quickly deteriorated for Bishop Sycamore, prompting rare in-game criticism.
“You look at IMG and this is the most talented prep team in the country,” ESPN announcer Anish Shroff said during the second quarter of Sunday’s game. “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, OK, 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.”
Reports indicate marketing agency Paragon Marketing Group did the scheduling for the GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff game involving Bishop Sycamore, and not ESPN, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
“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,” ESPN said in a statement. “They have assured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward.”
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