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The Bonham Trophy - Annual Prize For Aggies vs. Gamecocks - Is A Mystery

The Aggies and Gamecocks have been battling for the historically named trophy since 2013, and few have even heard of it.

Very few in attendance or on the sidelines at Kyle Field for Saturday's matchup between No. 17 Texas A&M and South Carolina are even aware there is a trophy awarded to the winner of the game each year between the two teams.

Or at least there was supposed to be.

The Bonham Trophy, named and modeled after Alamo battle hero James Bonham, was commissioned in 2013 by former Texas Governor Rick Perry and then South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

It was to be the prize for the winner of the annual SEC cross-division matchup between the Aggies and Gamecocks.

As recently as 2018 several Aggies players and A&M officials were asked about it and its whereabouts, and most were unaware it existed.

One A&M athletics administrator said he had last seen it in 2014.

The Aggies have not lost to the Gamecocks since joining the SEC in 2012. Logic would dictate the A&M football program should have possession of it. 

Richard Burton Peterson, a James Bonham historian, and Karina Erickson, the press secretary for Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush claim the trophy has found a home in the Alamo archives since 2014.

Peterson claims the idea for the trophy was taken from the Mayor's Cup, the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual South Carolina-Missouri game.

Bonham was a South Carolina political aide who became a hero at the Alamo and was the natural choice as the subject for an award linking A&M and South Carolina.

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Bonham was an 1827 alumnus of South Carolina and rode from the Alamo with Colonel William Barrett Travis' request for reinforcements, then returned to fight after the request was denied. Colonel Travis was also a native of South Carolina.

So what happened to the sculpture of James Bonham after its creation before the Aggies 2014 game against South Carolina?

Images of the trophy circulated prior to A&M's season-opening win over the Gamecocks, but Aggies athletics officials could not remember seeing it at the game or in the locker room afterward.

Ever since then, the trophy has not made a notable appearance at any of the games between the two schools. 

The trophy was intended to be a "governor's trophy," passed between the governors of the two states. Because it's such a delicate piece of artwork, costing over $4,000, it was never intended to be raised in a player-led celebration after a win.

Peterson said he hoped it would be more of an on-field, military-style presentation carried in by the Corps of Cadets.

In the initial plans, the trophy would spend a few weeks in the capitol building of the winning state and then return home to the Alamo archives. 

According to the SEC, all rivalry trophies are sanctioned and managed by the participating universities. When A&M joined the SEC in 2012, South Carolina was named their cross-division rival, designating an annual meeting between the two programs.

Plans to create a permanent display case for the trophy have been in the works for a number of years now, but it has maintained a permanent residence at the Alamo.

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