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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

Ian Rapoport: I Have Never Thought It is Me vs Adam Schefter

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows.”

Jordan Bondurant

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In terms of NFL insiders, Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter are the two biggest names out there. And sometimes it can be a race between the two to get the biggest scoops first. Especially now with the NFL coaching carousel in full swing.

This week two teams hired new head coaches – the Broncos traded two first round picks to the Saints to acquire the rights to Sean Payton and the Texans signed DeMeco Ryans.

Rapoport tweeted that Denver had pursued Ryans up until the day they announced the trade for Payton.

Not even 15 minutes later, Schefter appeared to clarify the information out there with the two teams.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Thursday, Pat McAfee referred to the conflicting information as a “source off.”

Ian said he stood behind what he put out there.

“I know it’s fun to call it a source off or whatever, but for me I reported what I had based on the best information I can get – based on talking to many, many people throughout the course of the last month,” Rapoport said from the Senior Bowl. “And then whatever happens as a result of this I don’t really mind.”

In terms of any sort of rivalry between him and Schefter, Rapoport doesn’t view it as a head-to-head matchup.

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows,” he said. “And everyone can sort of judge for themselves whichever way to go.”

McAfee gave kudos to Rapoport for his reporting on the Ryans situation. He also said it’s a good thing Rapoport doesn’t worry himself too much about what other insiders are doing.

“I think you should feel good about it, but I do like a good source off,” McAfee said. “And I appreciate the fact that you don’t view it as you versus Schefter. But you two are at the top of the game. So that’s a compliment more so than anything.”

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Sports TV News

AEW Considers Launching Streaming Service

“It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.”

Jordan Bondurant

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All Elite Wrestling is looking into launching its own streaming service.

According to reporting from Bloomberg, a source “familiar with management’s thinking” said AEW is looking to strike a deal with broadcast partner Warner Bros. Discovery.

Since launching in 2019, AEW now puts on two weekly shows on Warner channels TBS and TNT and airs two shows on YouTube.

Last year AEW acquired Ring of Honor from Sinclair Broadcast Group. As part of that deal, AEW took ownership of RoH’s extensive content library Honor Club. So much like WWE did with WWE Network when it launched in 2014, AEW could launch its streaming service and have all of Ring of Honor’s content in a one-stop shop.

It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.

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NBC Officially Unveils Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge as New Big Ten Booth

“With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

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It’s officially official: Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge, and Kathryn Tappen will join the Big Ten on NBC booth when the network begins airing the conference’s football package in 2023.

NBC made the announcement Thursday, after weeks of speculation about the moves.

“We are excited to showcase Big Ten Saturday Night on the NBC Sports’ primetime marquee,” said NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood. “When you hear Todd’s voice, you know it’s a big college football game. It has been that way for decades.

“Noah is one of the industry’s rising young play-by-play commentators, who has excelled calling numerous sports across multiple platforms for a wide range of audiences. We are thrilled to pair him in the booth with Todd.

“Kathryn has told the stories of so many memorable Notre Dame Football moments over the last decade in her on-field reporting and interviews,” Flood continued. “With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

Blackledge joins NBC after working as a college football analyst for the network for the past 17 seasons. Previously, he was the an analyst for CBS and ABC, making 2023 his 30th consecutive season covering college football as an analyst.

Eagle is the son of broadcasting legend Ian Eagle, and currently serves as the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers. He comes to NBC after calling college football games for FOX Sports in 2022.

Tappen has spent the past nine seasons working NBC’s college football coverage with Notre Dame. Eight of those nine seasons were spent as the network’s sideline reporter before anchoring the studio coverage from South Bend in 2022.

2023 will mark the beginning of a seven-year contract for NBC to air Big Ten football games in primetime. The move is one of the biggest notable expansions in the college football arena for the network since its partnership with Notre Dame began in 1991.

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