Church Sign Seeks Divine Intervention for University of Georgia Football
If you haven't lived in or spent much time in the Southeast, it's difficult to understand exactly how deeply college football is embedded in the region's social fabric. The pregame tailgating endures as a generations-long tradition (sorry NFL fans, you're amateurs by comparison -- when your devotees haul 10-ft.-wide grills by the hundreds to your pregame festivities, then we'll talk), and the names of gridiron legends and their on-field exploits are spoken of in reverential tones over plates of pulled pork and okra, and glasses of sweet tea.
Still, it raised a few eyebrows locally when the Rev. Dr. W. Glenn Doak, senior pastor of Athens, GA's First Presbyterian Church (the city where the University of Georgia [UGA] is located) and his staff put up a message on the church's sign that represented the sentiments of many Bulldog faithful: "Dear God, How Do You Stop Clowney?", a reference to Jadeveon Clowney, the University of South Carolina's (USC) dominant defensive end who's touted as a strong candidate to be the first defender to win the Heisman Trophy, college football's annual honor for its best player. UGA's Bulldogs and USC's Gamecocks play at Sanford Stadium in Athens this Saturday (September 7) in a game that could, even at this early date, determine the winner of the Southeastern Conference's (SEC) Eastern Division.
According to his bio on the First Presbyterian website, Doak is a Pennsylvania native, but locals have seemingly indoctrinated him about the importance of football in the South. In truth, the message was concocted as a publicity stunt for ESPN's College Gameday, the network's college-football pregame show, which airs on Saturday mornings during the season. It quickly went viral via sports websites and social media.
Although it was done to help ESPN's programming, the message strikes an authentic chord that speaks to the devotion of SEC football fans, where the happenings of big games are discussed for decades hence.
However, I wonder if the message's probability of being heard might have been improved had it been delivered on an electronic display.
(Editor's Note: ST Senior Associate Editor Steve Aust is a UGA graduate, and hopes that double-teaming Jadeveon Clowney, the University of South Carolina's superstar defensive end, with an offensive tackle and Quayvon Hicks, UGA's 280-lb. fullback, will suffice, but appreciates Rev. Doak's invoking the heavens for aid to secure a Bulldog victory.)