There we were, me and my three children at the dinner table as my wife was at work, when I found myself giving the kids a symposium on how to execute a scam. You see, one of my sons had managed to eat nearly all his sister's fries undetected, until he bragged about his crime. As she rained blows upon him, I told him his predicament was entirely his fault.
"If you're ever ripping one of your siblings off and they don't know it," I said, pausing momentarily to consider the gravity of what I was saying before pressing forward, "keep it to yourself and you'll be fine."
That episode comes to mind as the latest episode in the Bishop Sycamore saga unfolds. Perhaps it should have been a tell that, as The Athletic pointed out in its terrific story, that the school's initials are BS.
Had they not gone out of their way to get themselves drilled 58-0 by the best high school team in America on ESPN, the truth about BS would still be an open secret among those who known them and undetected to the rest of us. Alas, they had to go advertise their fraud on national television.
Now the entire program -- if you can even call it that -- may be on the brink of falling apart.
For starters, DeMatha Catholic has pulled out of their scheduled game on Oct. 1.
“We have been doing a lot of researching, and after discussing it with our coaching staff, we have decided to cancel that game with Bishop Sycamore because they have ineligible players and it would be a liability issue,” DeMatha Catholic High School president Fr. James R. Day told USA Today. “We think this is the right decision.”
It seems unlikely DeMatha will be the last. (Update: They're not the last.)
Playing an "online-only charter school" with little to no history is one thing, but what high school wants to associate itself with a loosely-affiliated "team" of players that aren't high school aged?
Bishop Sycamore has gone the wrong kind of viral. From unknown to punchline in 48 hours' time.
As if that wasn't enough, Ohio governor Mike DeWine has directed the state's resources to investigate Bishop Sycamore.
As of today, Sycamore has
six four games remaining -- that is, assuming they don't add unscheduled games, like Friday's loss to Pennsylvania's Sto-Rox High -- and it remains to be seen what high school administrators still want to share their field with an opponent who's not really a high school team.
Assuming they are able to finish their season, Bishop Sycamore will do so under a new head coach.
Founder, director and offensive line/defensive line coach Andre Peterson told USA Today that head coach Roy Johnson has been fired.
Now, the obvious question is why Johnson is being held responsible for blowback that the founder and director would have had to sign off on, but let's leave that aside for a bit.
Peterson told USA Today that he can explain everything.
Why is the school's address just a PO Box? From USA Today:
He said the school's actual location is private to protect students who were harassed at their pre-pandemic location.
Why isn't the "school" associated with any legitimate accrediting organization?
On multiple occasions, Peterson said the school has existed for four years, only to later say it was founded in 2019.
Why is the website basically just a how-to blog post explaining how to catch a recruiter's eye on social media?
"We have to make sure that website also includes the academic part of it. There’s things that you learn," he said. "There’s growing pains that you have. We realized that’s an issue. The reality of it is we’ve caused some of the questions by not doing some of the things that should have been done before. So that’s understandable. I totally get that. We have to make it an actual school website.”
And the most pressing question of all: What's in it for the people behind Bishop Sycamore?
"If it’s a scam and the kids are not going to school and not doing what they’re supposed to do, then I’m literally scamming myself. And most importantly, I’m hurting my own son. So when people say stuff like that … I would literally be taking my son’s future and throwing it in the trash."
Ultimately, the most pressing questions remain unanswered. How did they think they'd get away with telling Paragon Marketing Group they had "25-26" D1 recruits when the real answer was zero? How did they end up on Paragon's radar in the first place? Did they have any idea they'd be perpetuating the biggest fraud in ESPN's 40-plus year history?
And, most pressing of all, why did they decide to eat their sister's french fries on the biggest sports media network in the world?