Some Clemson fans may have been as confident as quarterback Deshaun Watson when the Tigers got the ball, down three points, with about two minutes and one final shot at the national championship remaining.
But some may have sought divine help, and Pastor Matthew Greer wants them to know that Piedmont United Methodist Church is there to help them keep any pledges they made.
Greer posted a sign with assembled letters about 12 hours after Clemson drove for the title-winning score with one second left: “If you made any promises on Clemson’s last drive, service starts at 10. #AllIn at 10:00.”
Facebook and Twitter posts of the sign went viral. Greer conducted interviews with every local television station. National sports websites called.
So did salesmen suggesting he consider upgrading his sign.
“South Carolina has stayed in the news this year for just awful stuff,” Greer said. “Even if it is just 15 seconds and it’s something as silly as a sign, how delightful is this?”
The response – and the admissions Greer has heard from fans in the game’s aftermath – has the church making special preparations for Sunday morning.
The sanctuary typically welcomes about 70 and can hold about 100, but adjoining rooms are being opened and space is being made for 160.
“If push comes to shove we’ll just sit people up in the choir loft,” Greer said.
Church secretary Kerri Wetzel usually composes the sign on a weekly basis, but Greer tackles the job himself when moved.
When he first came to the church about 18 months ago, he posted: “Our new pastor can’t spell, but he sure can prech.”
“I thought that was hilarious,” Greer said. “A couple of church members were like, ‘Yeah, well, that’s kind of funny.’ We did have one last year when the Carolina Panthers played in the Super Bowl, from John Wesley’s general rules: ‘Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.’ Then we added No. 4: ‘#KeepPounding,’ the Panthers’ thing.”
The Panthers lost, but Clemson didn’t.
“There are a lot of those pretty-mean-God, judging church signs in our area, so we do try to give our community a little something nicer to look at,” Greer said. “’Stop, drop and roll doesn’t work in Hell,’ ‘There is no AC in Hell,’ those may highlight hell more than the great stuff that God is doing out in the world.”
Greer, 31, actually has a Gamecock on his college degree, from the University of South Carolina Upstate, but “that’s top-secret,” he said. The Greenville native grew up a Clemson fan with a father who treated college baseball games the way other fans treat college football.
But he doesn’t suggest fans of any team in any sport pray for victory in any game.
“God’s not solely a Clemson fan but a fan and lover of all creation,” Greer said. “That’s not really what I was getting at with the sign. I think the Bible tells us and it definitely says so in Hebrews: ‘We can approach the throne with boldness.’ So it’s not really the praying as much as that bargaining that I’m kind of spoofing there. As many times where people pray, ‘Lord, if you do this, then I’ll do that,’ – it’s those promises that we make. The good news is, even as crumby as we are keeping those promises, God isn’t. He’s the promise-maker, and he’s the promise-keeper.”
Follow Michael Burns on Twitter @MikeAtGvlNwz