Can the SEC make it work with 13 spouses? Can Les Miles make it work with just one? And has the Steve Spurrier-Stephen Garcia mess been an act all along? These and other sordid tales, in the SEC's weekly gossip roundup:
MARRIED. The Southeastern Conference and the Texas A&M Aggies, on Sept. 26. After a summer-long dalliance with the Big 12 stalwart, the conference made it official, adding the Aggies to a now-legendary coterie of partners. "A lot of people told us it's crazy to think we can make a relationship work with 13 spouses, but they said the same thing about 12," declared SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. Some welcomed A&M to the household, though they had advice for getting along with the rest of the SEC's partners; others, however, said the marriage was a bad idea and that it was way too early for the SEC to be talking about becoming a "superconference." The new couple will honeymoon in Birmingham, Ala., before officially setting up a 13-team household in 2012.
IN A RELATIONSHIP. The LSU Tigers and the No. 1 ranking in the Associate Press poll, as of this past weekend. The longtime on-again, off-again relationship between the two was declared officially "on again" after the Tigers' 47-21 dismantling of West Virginia in Morgantown, their third win over a ranked team in their first four games of the season. The relationship, however, has been a volatile one in the past; fans of the two will recall them breaking up and getting back together several times toward the end of the 2007 season, culminating in a wild weekend in New Orleans. LSU's publicist insists that "this time it's for good," though the No. 1 ranking is said to maintain close ties with former fling Oklahoma.
IN TREATMENT. Georgia head coach Mark Richt and several members of his offensive coaching staff, for an addiction to field goals, as of Sunday morning. Richt's publicist revealed that the upstanding Christian and father of four has battled a field-goal addiction going back almost to the beginning of his tenure at the University of Georgia, which finally came to a head on Saturday when the Bulldogs' kicker, Blair Walsh, went 2-of-5 in a win over Ole Miss. "I want to be there for Coach when he needs me, but I decided we just couldn't carry on a co-dependent relationship like this," said Walsh, whom Richt called onto the field for field goals nine times in the last three weeks alone. Doctors say they want to ease Richt's withdrawal symptoms by transitioning from field goals to extra points, but won't know how well that treatment regimen is progressing until this weekend's home game against Mississippi State.
RECOVERING. Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter, after being struck by lightning in an outhouse near his home in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday. Minter is said to be in stable condition and doing well despite second-degree burns and unexplained cleat marks over 60 percent of his body; the outhouse, sadly, was a total write-off.
CHARGED. The Auburn Tigers, with several counts of fraud, video piracy and copyright infringement, on Saturday. Auburn promoters advertised a game between "the defending national champions and Florida's hottest football program," but fans were surprised and dismayed to find a group of impostors in Auburn uniforms playing the winless Florida Atlantic Owls. "I came expecting a rematch of one of those great Auburn-Florida games of the past few years," said Earl Henry of Eufaula, Ala., "but the Florida team was some Sun Belt squad barely up from I-AA, while the Auburn players, well, I don't have the slightest idea who those guys were." Auburn coach Gene Chizik denied the charges, saying "The Auburn team that played Saturday night is as real as the strikingly prominent chin on my face," and added that he looked forward to having his day in court, where he would "fight vigorously" for his right to continue using the Auburn name.
CHARGES DROPPED. Against the Vanderbilt Commodores, charges of harassment and aggravated stalking, in Columbia, S.C., on Monday. Witnesses spotted the Commodores "hanging around" with the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday night even as the Gamecocks attempted to get away, further reporting that the Vanderbilt players kept taking a football away from their companions despite repeated pleas to give it back. The charges were dropped for lack of evidence, though, after the Commodores were found to have amassed only 77 yards of offense (including four yards rushing) the entire evening. Carolina's attorney, however, claims this is just a part of Vandy's M.O. "They harass you and make you downright miserable for three or four hours," he said, "and then when the cops show up, they're like, 'Who, me, I'm just an SEC doormat, there's no way I could've done what this guy's describing." The attorney added that the Gamecocks would continue to press for a restraining order despite the lack of legal charges being brought.
FINED. Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze, for trespassing and reckless driving, over the weekend. Maze was caught driving at top speed across a number of lawns in a residential neighborhood in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and led police on a high-speed chase through traffic that was caught on TV by news helicopters before coming to a stop outside his own home. When asked why he had been driving so erratically, Maze said he'd been at the grocery store buying a gallon of milk and "wanted to make it home before 'The Simpsons' came on."
MISSING. The Ole Miss offense, since Jan. 2, 2010. Officials have no clues as to the offense's whereabouts, other than the fact that the last known sighting was in Kansas City, Mo., last September. Anyone with information that could lead to the offense being found is urged to call the Rebels' next head coach, whoever that ends up being.
CANCELLED. The reality TV series "Road to the SEC Title: Arkansas Razorbacks," following the departure of several key cast members. The replacement of quarterback Ryan Mallett with Tyler Wilson was surprisingly well-received by fans, but beloved running back Knile Davis' departure due to medical issues was followed by a revolving door of character actors who resonated with neither fans nor critics. Show creator Bobby Petrino said he was "disappointed" in the decision but is already hard at work on retooling the series. Petrino expects the revamped program, "Cotton Bowl Bound and Down," to move to the Discovery Channel in the coming weeks.
EXPOSED. Another reality series, "The Real Quarterbacks of Richland County," after patrons at a Columbia, S.C., restaurant overheard South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and quarterback Stephen Garcia drawing up potential plot lines last Thursday. Reports said Spurrier was describing "a bunch of complicated pass plays Garcia couldn't make" while Garcia promised to throw interceptions on as many of them as necessary to goad Spurrier into a visor-throwing temper tantrum on the sideline. While Spurrier admitted that "certain aspects" of the controversial program are scripted in advance, he vowed to keep the show on the air, claiming "Real Quarterbacks" is still "an accurate depiction of real-life situations and relationships" within the South Carolina football program. This weekend's episode, guest-starring the Auburn Tigers, will air as scheduled on CBS.