Saving College Football from Itself

TO: NCAA President Mark Emmert
Major College Athletic Directors
College Football Conference Commissioners
RE: College Football Realignment/Playoff

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are once again nearing the end of another exciting college football season.  There have been some stellar individual accomplishments, great team performances, and heart-stopping finishes.  Traditional powers and perennial doormats alike have made their way through the minefield of the college football season, and are preparing for the upcoming conference championships and bowl games.

Yes, in many different ways, college football is thriving.  Cavernous and vast football stadiums are filled every weekend and television ratings are through the roof.  And it is because of this success that I make this simple plea:

Please … Stop.

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The Great Big Test o’ Rempeness

“I could’ve been a Rempe!”  I’ve heard this from a number of people over the years.  In most cases*, the person speaking is attesting that they share much in common with the Rempe boys, love some of the old family stories, and would have enjoyed being raised in our household.

But there is more to being a Rempe than sharing genetic code or a general lack of common sense.  There is an ethos, a mentality, a philosophy that permeates the very being of a natural-born Rempe.

Do you have what it takes to be an honorary Rempe?  The following questionnaire will help determine your level of Rempeness.**  Points for each answer will be revealed in the answer code.  Please proceed with caution.
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Baptism of Samuel Rempe

There are many different ways to describe baptism.  It is a cleansing and forgiveness of sin.  It is an imparting of the Holy Spirit.  It is adoption as God’s child, and initiation into the one holy and apostolic Church.  It is the drowning of the “Old Adam,” and the promise of a new life lived in Christ.  Baptism is all of these things, and more.

On September 9, Samuel Robert Rempe was baptized at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Virginia, and was welcomed into the Lord’s family.  Apparently, the old Adam was not too keen on the whole drowning thing, as Samuel cried pretty much through the whole ceremony.  (In a tactical error on our part, Beth and I found ourselves on one side of the baptismal font with a pacifier, with Grandmas Rempe and Friedrich on the other side holding said screaming infant.  I was tempted to relive my old basketball-playing days and transfer the pacifier with a well-placed hook shot, but I have my questions about mom’s hands, and I suspect that such a move would have been frowned upon in such a setting.)

Samuel was able to calm down long enough to take a few pictures after the service, and Grace and Caleb slowed down just long enough to remain in the frame for a couple of photos.  (Phase II: getting all the kids to look at the camera at the same time.  We hope to have this accomplished by Grace’s high school graduation.)

Thank you to all of you who were able to come out and join us on this blessed occasion.  For those of you who were unable to join us, here are a few photos.

Childhood Heroes and the Disappointments of Adulthood

Most of us can remember a time when we weren’t so jaded and beaten down by life.  These were days of great possibility, when life was what you made of it.  The future was something greatly anticipated, with new things to experience and lessons to learn.

Essex JohnsonIn these halcyon days of youth, we always saw the best in things, and in people.  It was okay to have heroes—individuals to whom we could look with unwavering admiration and affection, without the slightest hint of cynicism or fear that they might not be exactly as they appear.  To return to those days would be return to a time when “The Juice” was a reference to O.J. Simpson (football player, actor, and spokesperson), and had nothing to do with blood doping or anabolic steroids.

Unfortunately, with adulthood comes a knowledge of good and evil, and the understanding that those we held in such high esteem might not have deserved all the love we were all too willing to shower upon them.  (One needn’t look back too far.  A recent purge of collected Sports Illustrated magazines revealed many cover stories dedicated to the likes of Lance Armstrong, Joe Paterno, and Tiger Woods.  A particularly amusing cover from 2000 announced, “With Sammy [Sosa], Junior [Griffey], and Mac [McGwire], the juice is in the National League Central.”  Yes. Yes it was.)

The ’70s were a great time to grow up as a sports-crazy boy in Ohio.  The “Big Red Machine” in Cincinnati was arguably the best baseball team in history that didn’t call Yankee Stadium home.  In college football, Ohio State and Michigan were in the midst of the “ten year war” between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler that would take an already heated rivalry off the charts in terms of intensity.  These teams boasted legendary names.  Bench.  Morgan.  Rose.  Griffin.  Tatum.  Gradishar.

While I loved all these guys, my first love was the expansion professional football team in Cincinnati.  And my favorite player was a slight tailback out of Grambling State University, all but forgotten for all but the most ardent of Bengal fans.

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Book Review – Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics

I’m not in the habit of offering book reviews here on this blog, this being the first, and I’m not likely to be doing this very often.  However, I am going to make an exception in this case.

Bad ReligionAs Beth and I were preparing for young Samuel’s arrival, I determined that there might be some downtime at the hospital (less than I anticipated, as it turns out).  I had heard a bit of a buzz surrounding New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, and decided it was worth the download.

It certainly was.

In Bad Religion, Douthat examines two predominant arguments concerning what he perceives to be American decline.  The first blames a move away from traditional religious mores and beliefs for cultural rot.  A second argument takes exactly the opposite approach, blaming the America’s corporate religiosity as an anchor that is preventing the nation from progressing.

Douthat offers an alternative view.  “America’s problem isn’t too much religion, or too little of it,” he says.  “It’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional Christianity and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities in its place.”

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The Butter Knife Story

As the title might imply, this blog will from time to time look back at stories of my childhood and assorted Rempe lore.  For starters, I thought I would begin with the story portrayed in the above banner—what has come to be known to friends and family alike as “the butter knife story.”

In recent years, some have called into question elements of this account.  The objections generally center around the nature of household current, and its ability to propel small children considerable distances.  To this, I can only say that I remember what I remember, and the images from that Sunday morning remain firmly entrenched in my brain.  Nobody has ever questioned that this is something in which the story’s principals would have participated.  In fact, the story could help to explain a lot about the Rempe brothers and our development (or lack thereof).

With that caveat, and operating under the premise that absolute truth should not be allowed to get in the way of a good story, I offer a cautionary tale – one that will be shielded from my offspring until they have learned the dangers of conductivity.  I give you “The Butter Knife Story.”


It was early on a Sunday morning.  I was about eight years old at time—roughly the age when you start realizing that sleeping in can actually be a good thing.  Alas, younger brothers Doug and Bill had not yet reached that stage in their development.

“Steve!  Get up!  You have to see this.”

Doug was bouncing with excitement.  “You really need to see this!” he repeated.  Before I could protest, he had thrown the covers of my bed open and had pulled me halfway out of the bed.  Knowing that resistance at this stage would be futile, I grabbed my glasses and followed Doug into the living room.

I half-expected some major destruction as I rounded the corner.  Instead, I was greeted with the sight of younger brother Bill, still in pajamas and with uncombed hair, seated on the floor.  His feet were straight out in front of him, about a shoulder’s width apart, facing the far wall.

“What’s he doing?” I asked?

“Just watch,” Doug replied.

There were two things that I had failed to notice upon my entry into the room.  The first was that between Bill’s feet on the wall was a standard two-prong household outlet.  The second was the all-metal butter knife he was holding in his left hand.

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Photo Gallery #2: Samuel Meets the Family

I promise not to make this blog a virtual family photo gallery.  Well, not exclusively.  However, if my readers will indulge me this one time, I offer one more photo gallery of our newest family member, meeting his brother, sister, and other assorted family members. – SR