Bishop Sycamore as we know it is painted as a fairly dire picture.
The school may or may not teach classes. The school may or may not be a collection of student-athletes too old for high school who are brought in just to play games. The school may or may not have been a money-making scheme for its football head coach. The school definitely isn't what it claimed to be to ESPN and its high school partners so it could reach the TV airwaves and get exposed to the world.
Many will criticize Bishop Sycamore as it has been reported as not really a school so much as a football team with a school's name and not much else. That group apparently includes the new head coach of the "school."
Did someone from Bishop Sycamore just tell the truth?
Tyren Jackson, who took over as Bishop Sycamore head coach following the exit of Leroy Johnson, answered some of the many questions facing his program in an interview with NBC4 Investigates' Jamie Ostroff.
First and foremost, Jackson appeared to set the record straight on one thing. He said Bishop Sycamore is not a school:
“We do not offer curriculum,” he said. “We are not a school. That’s not what Bishop Sycamore is, and I think that’s what the biggest misconception about us was, and that was our fault. Because that was a mistake on paperwork.”
Per NBC4, Bishop Sycamore was classified by the state of Ohio as a "non-charter, non-tax supported school during the previous school year. Jackson, who reportedly described his program as a “post-grad football academy,” said the paperwork mistake that led to Bishop Sycamore being classified as a school occurred before he was hired seven months ago.
When pressed on a past report that Bishop Sycamore has an official bell schedule and building address associated with its name, Jackson had this to say:
“Right, and I don’t know anything about that. I won’t speak on stuff I don’t know about. Like I said, if it was something that happened like that, then that’s terrible. That’s not how you do business.”
So, if Bishop Sycamore really did misrepresent itself to the authorities as a school, then even the program's head coach is denouncing it.
All of this begs one simple question. If Bishop Sycamore is not a school, if the people inside it are in agreement that it is intended to give young adults football games to play rather than classes to take, then why is it playing actual high schools? The answer to that is probably uncomfortable for all involved.
The school, or at least Jackson, seems quite aware that its debacle against IMG Academy on ESPN has raised its national profile far higher than it ever wanted:
“A lot of it, you can say, was self-inflicted, and I’m willing to say that,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, that’s probably from a head-down type of thing. Don’t attack these kids. Don’t take that part from them, now that they don’t have a season, possibly. Once the smoke clears, we’re national news. Whoever does schedule us next will be national news.”
Unfortunately for Bishop Sycamore, its next opponent might not be another high school so much as the Ohio Department of Education.