Knox and Eureka Compete for New Lincoln Trophy

Winner of Lincoln Bowl takes statue donated by former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar

August 24, 2012

Knox College and Eureka College will rekindle a century-old athletic rivalry and recognize their historic ties to President Abraham Lincoln when the schools kick off the 2012 football season.

Abraham Lincoln TrophyThe new Lincoln Trophy will be presented to the winning team after the Prairie Fire hosts the Red Devils in the inaugural Abraham Lincoln Bowl at 1 p.m., Saturday, September 1 in the Knosher Bowl at Knox. The trophy is a bust of the young Lincoln, provided by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation in Springfield. The trophy was donated to the schools by former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, a board member and former chair of the foundation.

"Knox College is honored to compete for a trophy named after Abraham Lincoln," said Knox College President Teresa Amott. "Lincoln was a life-long learner who exhibited integrity and courage in his personal and professional lives. In sports, he was strong and always played by the rules. On and off the field, these are the examples we set before our students."

"The Lincoln Bowl is an exciting new tradition with our longtime friends at Knox College that helps continue to honor the servant leadership values we instill in our students," Eureka College President J. David Arnold said. "I suspect Abraham Lincoln would be pleased to know that two college campuses he visited in his lifetime continue to celebrate his values today."

Wayne Whalen, chair of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation board, will participate in the coin toss and present the trophy to the winning coach at the conclusion of the inaugural game.

The trophy notes that Lincoln spoke at both colleges in the 1850s. Lincoln spoke at Eureka in 1856 on behalf of John Charles Fremont, the Republican Party's very first candidate for President of the United States. Two years later, in 1858, Lincoln debated Stephen Douglas at Knox in the race for a United States Senate seat.

"The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation is pleased to help present the Lincoln Bowl, joining with Eureka and Knox in this new tradition celebrating Lincoln and Illinois history," Whalen said.

Admission to the game is free, and each attendee will receive a souvenir Lincoln fan provided by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. The fan includes a coupon for $5 off admission to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, $10 off museum membership and a 10% discount for purchases at the museum shop.

"Knox College has a number of historic connections with Abraham Lincoln," said Rodney Davis, co-director with Douglas Wilson of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College. "Lincoln was a member of the Illinois legislature in 1837 when Knox was granted its charter. Both Knox College and Galesburg had a wide reputation for supporting anti-slavery causes, and a large banner proclaiming 'Knox College for Lincoln' was hung above the platform at the Lincoln-Douglas Debate in 1858. In 1860 Knox College awarded Lincoln its first honorary doctorate, which was also Lincoln's first academic honor of any kind," Davis said.

Davis and Wilson, both emeritus professors at Knox College, have conducted research on Lincoln for the past two decades at the Lincoln Studies Center. They have collaborated with the Library of Congress to transcribe and annotate Lincoln papers and have published several widely acclaimed books about Lincoln. They also have served as expert sources for Lincoln-related projects in a variety of media.

The first football game between Knox and Eureka was played in Galesburg on October 14, 1893, won by Knox 22-0. The teams have played 21 times since, and Knox holds a 16-5-1 edge in the all-time series. In the most recent game, the Red Devils defeated the Prairie Fire 28-13 at Eureka in the first game of the 2009 season.

"The rivalry goes back more than 100 years and honors the schools' historical connections to the nation's 16th president," Knox athletic director and head football coach Chad Eisele said.

Eisele, an all-conference defensive back for Knox, played his first college football game against Eureka in 1986. The teams played to a 6-6 tie, the only draw in the all-time series.

The Lincoln Bowl is the first of three traveling trophy contests Knox will compete in this fall. The Prairie Fire soccer teams will play MacMurray College for the Ferris Trophy on September 19 in Jacksonville, Illinois. Knox and Monmouth College will continue the sixth oldest rivalry in college football when they play for the Bronze Turkey in Monmouth on November 10 -- the 125th football game between the two colleges.

Below, photos from Knox's most recent home game with Eureka, in 2008, won by the Prairie Fire 26-0.