Two schools. One new annual game. Toss in a hunk of shiny metal and you've got a great new rivalry, right?
Wrong. It's a nice attempt to create some excitement, sure. And down the road it might matter. But as some sort of accelerant for fan and player passions? Not gonna happen.
We bring this up because South Carolina and Texas A&M -- new permanent cross-division rivals -- will be playing for a trophy this fall. According to Columbia's The State, "The bronze sculpture, depicting Bonham on a horse headed back to the Alamo, is slated to be traded between USC and Texas A&M" according to a Republican Party source with close ties to Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry is an A&M grad and helped conceive the trophy. So who exactly is Bonham?
If you know your Alamo history -- or have at least seen a movie or two -- you know that James Butler Bonham left the fort to try and bring back help for the troops inside. When he learned that no help would come, knowing full well that the Alamo was a lost cause, Bonham crossed back through enemy lines to re-enter the fort and tell commanding officer William Travis that the men inside were on their own.
Bonham was educated at the University of South Carolina. Interestingly, Travis was also a Palmetto State native, but USC officials considered him to controversial as he once tracked down runaway slaves and he abandoned his wife.
So a trophy dedicated to Bonham makes sense. Just don't expect it to make the Aggies/Gamecocks clash an immediate success.
Arkansas and LSU gave the trophy idea a shot with their Golden Boot trophy. Has that become a game for the ages? Obviously not. LSU wanted Texas A&M as it's end-o'-the-year tilt once the Aggies entered the league. And many Razorback fans will tell you that the Hogs still haven't found a true, hated rival in the SEC.
Interestingly enough, Carolina recently went the trophy route as it opened its rivalry with new East Division foe Missouri two years ago. The schools from Columbia, Missouri and Columbia, South Carolina play for the Mayor's Cup each season.
Some day the battle for a trophy featuring a hero of the Alamo may mean something. But this fall, Aggie and Gamecock fans will be playing more for a season-opening win and a good start to their season than they will be a bronze sculpture. Only time can make Carolina/Texas A&M feel like a rivalry game.