Birmingham-Southern and Huntingdon announce annual gridiron showdown for Wesley Cup

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Birmingham-Southern College and Huntingdon College have announced that the schools’ football teams will play annually for a trophy that will be called the Wesley Cup.

The first showdown for the Wesley Cup will take place November 7, as Birmingham-Southern hosts Huntingdon in its 2009 Homecoming game. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two colleges on the gridiron.

The Wesley Cup is named for John Wesley, who was the principal founder of the Methodist movement in the 18th century. Both Birmingham-Southern and Huntingdon are affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

The idea for the Wesley Cup was enthusiastically approved by Dr. David Pollick, president of Birmingham-Southern, and Dr. Cameron West, president of Huntingdon.

"When [Birmingham-Southern Athletics Director] Joe Dean, Jr., and I talked about having a trophy for the winner of the game, I was all for it," Huntingdon Director of Athletics Buzz Phillips said. "Since we are both affiliated with the Methodist Church, we thought the Wesley Cup would be a great option, named after the founder of the Methodist Church. I am very excited about the added incentive that this will provide for our coaches and players, as well as a long-term rivalry with Birmingham-Southern."

"It's not the Iron Bowl, but the only two NCAA Division III football programs in the state of Alabama will square off every year for the Wesley Cup, which we think will create added excitement and publicity for the student-athletes and their coaches at both schools," Dean said.

"This is a game that we have been looking forward to since Birmingham-Southern started its football program," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "Playing each year for the Wesley Cup will give both our student-athletes and coaches something extra to prepare for, above and beyond just working for a victory on the field. This game will provide another great in-state rivalry and that is something that college football in the South is all about."

"We look forward to getting the rivalry started," Birmingham-Southern head coach Eddie Garfinkle said. "Originally we wanted to wait and play Huntingdon with a full senior class in 2010, but our players got excited when we announced to them that we were playing them this year for Homecoming and for the new Wesley Cup."

Huntingdon began its football program in the fall of 2003, and BSC’s first season since 1939 was 2007.