How do you stop South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney? It's a question that many Georgia fans have undoubtedly asked themselves in advance of Saturday's game against South Carolina in Athens, Ga.
It's also what the bulletin board out front at the First Presbyterian Church in Athens asked on Tuesday afternoon. A picture of the board was posted to Reddit and it quickly went viral as college football fans lapped up the meeting of two different types of religion in the South.
The organic and divine nature of this sign, however, may not be what it seems. When Dr. Saturday called the church to confirm the veracity of the message, we were told the saying was part of a promotional campaign for GameDay, ESPN's traveling college football pregame show.
That's right. The message appears to be nothing more than some planted promotion for GameDay -- which is actually in Ann Arbor this weekend for Michigan and Notre Dame.
See the listed 4:30 p.m. time on the sign? First Presbyterian told us they don't have a Saturday service scheduled for that time. The game is scheduled to start at 4:30 local time on Saturday and ESPN requested the church include the time in the message. (An ESPN spokesperson confirmed that the sign was part of a feature for GameDay on Saturday.)
The message was already taken down as of Wednesday afternoon, but the First Presbyterian Church was not the only building in town asking the same question on its signage. The Georgia Theater posed the same question as well. (We have an email in to the Georgia Theater asking how long their sign was up and whether they were moved to action by ESPN.)
The signs are fun, sure. And they'll help ESPN to further the narrative surrounding Jadeveon Clowney, a Heisman Trophy hopeful who was the subject of a SportsCenter item called 'The Freak' before the season. They might even boost national ratings given the play the pictures are getting on social media.
But it'll also make you think twice about the authenticity next time you see signage emanating from the site of GameDay's next show. Part of the reason we all love college football is the passion of the fanbases. Messages and signs like that originate well enough on their own, not at the prodding of a television producer.
Is ESPN's help really needed?
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