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ESPN Duped By Seemingly Fake High School

Bishop Sycamore, who played IMG Academy on ESPN over the weekend, has found itself in a slew of controversy over its legitimacy.

MIchael Quirk

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If you watched this weekend’s nationally televised high school football matchup between IMG Academy and Bishop Sycamore, you likely knew a lot about one of the teams. IMG boasts a collection of athletic facilities that put quite a number of universities to shame. They continually put double-digit (yes, double-digit) recruits into Power Five football programs every year. They’re the gold standard of prep talent in the country.

The best competition in the country, however, does not include their last opponent, Bishop Sycamore. If you have not heard of Bishop Sycamore, then you are like 99.999 percent of everyone else before this weekend. They were brought to ESPN by Paragon, who was informed by the “school” they had a dozen D1-caliber football players. Turns out, that was not remotely the case, as discussed at-length on Twitter and further in-depth by Awful Announcing. ESPN even mentioned in the second quarter that they couldn’t even verify the roster or seemingly anything else about IMG’s opponent.

The world of high school and college football is no stranger to hoaxes, from kids holding fake signing ceremonies to schools they did not hold offers to prank callers acting as coaches offering recruits to the infamous Manti Te’o saga which has elicited thousands of jokes on Twitter with the Bishop Sycamore news. This one may take the cake, however.

Addresses for the school were found to be either a duplex home or a local library. The team had limited jerseys and helmets, putting out a GoFundMe to raise $20,000 but raised just $200. No one was able to verify the roster, which according to an ex-player’s parent has former junior college players on it. Maybe the most-damning piece is the team already played on the weekend, meaning its minimal roster of 30 or so players play twice in a matter of three days.

Many on Twitter and across the sports media landscape have cast aspersions toward the program and rightfully so. The charade puts a black eye on both ESPN and Paragon, who have obviously come out to say they will not work with that team anymore. More importantly, it put players’ health and safety at risk as they were not only overworked on the field with two games in three days, but were severely outmatched.

It appears the only legitimate part of Bishop Sycamore is their abbreviation.

On the bright side for ESPN though, the network has found a perfect subject for a multi-part 30 for 30 or perhaps an E:60 investigation.

Sports TV News

ESPN Reportedly To Lose Big Ten Media Rights For the First Time in 40 Years

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Jordan Bondurant

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BIG TEN, CBS, NBC, FOX SPORTS

After several months, it appears the Big Ten is nearing the finish line on a new media rights deal. And despite still reportedly being in negotiations with the conference, ESPN is looking set to lose out on media rights.

According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, CBS and NBC are the frontrunners to join with FOX.

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Ourand reported his sources told him ESPN’s deal to keep the Big Ten was not as strong as the one offered by the other two networks.

It would mark the first time in four decades that ESPN didn’t have some involvement in Big Ten sports. But Ourand indicates the worldwide leader could pivot into bundling Big 12 and Pac-12 rights as an alternative. Additionally the network would then pursue keeping its deals with NCAA for championship coverage as well as being the home for the College Football Playoff.

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Sports TV News

Pat McAfee: Deals With Amazon/ESPN Fell Short Because The Show Comes First

“Energy, time, anything away from this show… we got a lot going on. This is my number one focus and it should remain as such…”

Jordan Bondurant

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Last week, it was announced that Pat McAfee would be hosting his own version of the popular Manning Cast only for college football games.

McAfee, co-host AJ Hawk, and the rest of his cast and crew from The Pat McAfee Show will host an alternate feed for six college football games this season.

McAfee was rumored to be in talks with Amazon about potentially hosting an alternate broadcast for its Thursday NFL games, and the former Colts punter had also reportedly talking with ESPN about potentially being featured on College GameDay.

McAfee said to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post that ultimately the Amazon and GameDay deals didn’t come to fruition because it just didn’t make sense.

“I’ve had great conversations with both companies, we just weren’t able to get to a point where ‘the ask’ and ‘the business’ were where it needed to be to get a deal done on both fronts,” McAfee said.

McAfee on his show on Monday elaborated a bit further, trying to put to bed that he was being courted for Thursday Night Football.

“I’m not 100 percent sure if that’s what we were talking about, by the way,” he said. “I was never really approached for anything for Thursday Night Football. That was never really anything.”

Pat read from the full response to Marchand’s questions, posted under the Post story which appeared on the paper’s site Monday. He reiterated that his daily show and the small business he built around his show, take precedent over anything else.

“Energy, time, anything away from this show, this operation, this crew; we got families being built, we got houses being bought, we got 12 employees, we got a lot going on,” he said. “So this is my number one focus and it should remain as such because I have a brain, and also I care a lot about this operation. I love it, actually.”

Still, McAfee made it clear that just because no deal was signed with ESPN and Amazon for 2022 means the ship has sailed permanently. He’s keeping his doors open.

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Sports TV News

Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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