Oct. 20, 2012
Stacy's Record-Breaking Run | Complete Game Recap
After a game, one of the stars is escorted to an interview room and every once in a while you can glimpse into the player's character during that short walk.
The first time I had a hunch that Zac Stacy might be special and not just your above-average back came during one of these strolls. He had just rushed for 169 yards against Ole Miss in only 11 carries. I was impressed but when I offered him a stat sheet he shrugged it off as though it was last week's lettuce salad.
It was a flashback to my days of working with our No. 1 rated women's basketball team in 1993 when I'd never encountered a successful bunch that knew less about their statistics. All-American center Heidi Gillingham cared the least; she thought stats were useless trivia.
While there are exceptions, I find that the better the player the less they care about the individual stat sheet. Unless it has a direct correlation to winning and losing, they usually are uninterested.
Stacy had quietly snuck up on Frank Mordica's 33-year old career rushing record (2,632 yards), which was exactly as he wanted it. Navy Seals couldn't break him if the topic were his personal accomplishments.
Zac pounded and sped for 169 yards Saturday, his team needing every inch of them to top Auburn and the old record fell. That fact was not lost on his teammates, who gave him the ultimate honor by carrying him off the field.
The Centreville, Ala., senior attributed that to "our great team chemistry" and while obviously happy he seemed to be one of the least impressed people in the media room about his feat.
"I'm very honored to have the record, trust me," Stacy said after a bit of prodding. But that admission didn't come until he had acknowledged his offensive line several times and thanked the Commodore defense for "having my back" after his fumble late in the fourth quarter gave the Tigers new life.
Stacy said he was probably more annoyed with his fumble than happy with his record and promised to "get back to work" tomorrow after enjoying the victory tonight. He said he didn't come into the game thinking about setting a record; he was more focused "on getting a W."
Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin also saluted Stacy's significant achievement but also called the record "a team award" because no back gains yardage without men in the trenches opening gaps.
It was a joyous postgame for the Commodores, who entered their locker room high-fiving, chanting and singing a rousing rendition of "Dynamite", the school's fight song.
It was much less enjoyable across the hallway, where Auburn's first game in Nashville in four years completed a baffling cycle.
On Oct. 4, 2008, Vanderbilt upset the Tigers before ESPN GameDay cameras in what would be Coach Tommy Tuberville's last season on the Plains. Two years later Auburn would win the national championship with a perfect 14-0 season and after today the Tigers are winless in five SEC tries.
Life in the world of sports: exhilarating...or baffling. Sometimes it's a very thin line of difference.