Of Faith And Football

Paul Koch is 1991 graduate of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he served as Strength and Conditioning Specialist for the Husker Power and Performance Team from 1987–96. He was part of the strength team that helped to produce national championship football teams for Nebraska in 1994 and 1995. He went on to become the producer and business manager for the Famous San Diego Chicken (Ted Giannoulas) and now works in real estate in San Diego. We met at Christ United Reformed Church, Santee.

What follows is the transcript of a telephone interview I did with Paul probably in 2011 or 2012 and is excerpted online from his 2 volume book: No Place Like Nebraska: Anatomy of an Era vol. 1 and vol. 2 (2013).

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Many former players have mentioned the support of the fan base and the unique arms-length relationships cultivated during their time as student/athletes as playing a part in their 60 & 3 accomplishments. Husker Nation’s affinity for football often borders on the spiritual and holds many parallels to that of organized religion, so I took some liberty to delve further into the mind, the heart and soul of the typical Husker Fan. And boy oh boy, did I find a doozy in R. Scott Clark, an expatriate Nebraskan now serving as a Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California. With a bachelor’s of Arts from the University of Nebraska, followed by a Master of Divinity from Westminster and a Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University in Cambridge, England, he’s had half a lifetime to experience and explore the many facets of the Big Red Sickness. His professional website bio reads, “What I Want to Instill in My Students: “I want to connect my students with their past and let the past influence them, teach them, and guide them inasmuch as it can and should, and help them to think well biblically and Christianly about the faith, about the Scriptures, about themselves, about this world, and about their place in it.”

Listen in on Scott’s confessions, er… thoughts on the madness that is this incurable, grandiose, shared malady of Nebraska football and his -as well as our- place in it.

Notable quote #1:

The passion—you’ve been there, you know what it was like—the pain. I realized in that game Nebraska Football was too important to me. I always denied that it was an idol, but at that moment I realized I had invested way too much of myself in Nebraska football. I mean, it was crazy what a bunch of teenagers and twenty year-olds did on a football field… how could that affect me so much?”

Question: Hey Scott, I appreciate your making yourself available since you’re a Husker Theologian-slash-Christian Theologian. (chuckling)

Scott Clark: (laughs) Sure. That’s fine. However I can be helpful, that’s fine.

Q: So you grew up in Lincoln, right?

SC: Yeah, Omaha and Lincoln. I was 10 years in Omaha, in a couple of different neighborhoods, Dundee and Benson. And about ten years in Lincoln, so I guess we call Lincoln home. That’s where my family is and that’s where I went to high school. And I probably know Lincoln a little better than I know Omaha, but I still have friends in Omaha and when I go back in the summers I preach there. Read more»

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One comment

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