Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he’d be pressed to find a ticket for Jesus to Saturday’s game against Notre Dame, but he hoped he held the trump card to counter the papal visit to the U.S. last week.
“I do think it’s a little unfair that they brought the Pope into town just in time for the Clemson game,” Swinney said. “I think that’s kind of a low-blow.”
Three popes preceded Pope Francis’ visit with seven trips to U.S., the first by Pope Paul VI in 1965.
Tim Bourret, a member of the Clemson sports information staff since 1978, graduated from Notre Dame and worked both previous Clemson-Notre Dame games, for the Irish in 1977 and the Tigers in 1979.
“We do have Tim Bourret, and Tim Bourret is 2-0 lifetime in these games,” Swinney said.
“Hopefully, Tim, we’re hoping you can trump the Pope.”
Not to worry. Notre Dame’s record in years of papal visits to the U.S. doesn’t track favorably – a 58-27-1 record to date including 11-1 in 1993 under Lou Holtz and 5-7 in 1999 under Bob Davie.
In fact, Clemson won at Notre Dame in 1979.
Swinney said he followed Pope Francis’ trip with great interest, and was particularly intrigued when the the Pope attended the vesper service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Swinney visited the church in December while it was undergoing a renovation.
“It’s been forever since we’ve played Notre Dame, and they’ve done fired everybody up and took him all around the country,” he said in jest, adding seriously. “It’s been pretty special, kind of watching that and following that.”
Asked if he had been able to fill all the ticket requests from family and friends, Swinney chuckled.
“I couldn’t get Jesus tickets, and that’s the truth.”