Vanderbilt makes strong hire in Stanford’s Derek Mason


Oregon fans are now the biggest Vanderbilt fans in college football.

Vanderbilt AD David Williams just hired away the defensive guru in Derek Mason, who shut Oregon’s explosive offense down for two straight seasons and helped the Cardinal win the Pac-12.

“I am so excited to be at Vanderbilt,” Mason said via a release. “This university combines the best of what’s good about college athletics and academics. We expect to be competitive and look forward to competing for an SEC East crown.”

For the second straight time, Williams looks to have made a strong hire, after previously targeting Gus Malzahn before hiring James Franklin. I think he gets it.

Some Vanderbilt fans are still upset with Franklin leaving, especially after he raided the recruiting class, but the reality is they wouldn’t get Derek Mason from Stanford without Franklin. So, embrace the challenge and be thankful the job is much more attractive than it was three years ago.

Related: SEC dominates recent NFL mock drafts

How attractive is it? Vanderbilt is 24-16 over the past three seasons and 16-4 over the past 20 games. Only Alabama has a better record over the same 20 games, a far cry from the 4-20 program Franklin inherited.

Coming from Stanford, Mason knows a little something about recruiting top talent while working around the academic structure and standards. He knows how to go into a young man’s living room and sell a brand, both academically and athletically. He can identify the types of players needed to fit the academic requirements, and he knows the types of players it takes to win games. Vanderbilt tapping into Stanford success shows the leadership is making the right decisions to eventually get to where they want to be: a championship program.

The job reportedly came down to Mason and Clemson OC Chad Morris. However, hiring Mason was the best choice. Morris may have been the best hire for the job short-term, but Mason could be a better solution for more long-term. After all, offensive gurus like Morris are in high demand, and he’s made it no secret he wants that next big job. Morris could have won eight games and bolted for another primo job in college football, while Mason could find more permanent contentment in Nashville.

Vanderbilt needed a college coach, not an NFL offensive coordinator. And they got their man in Mason, who truly enjoys the relationship aspect of college football.

Related: Confessions of a college football recruiting addict

While things will get rocky with the current recruiting class in the short run while Mason is putting together his staff, the most important thing was getting the hire right. And Vanderbilt hired the best candidate who’s coming from a winner to a program that’s trying to build a winner.

Introductory press conference

Mason was introduced as Vandy’s head coach today, and he’s not shying away from lofty goals, via

“SEC East title, here we come,” said Mason. “Make no bones about it. You’ve got to talk about it to make it happen.

“I’m never going to try to be James Franklin. I’m Derek Mason. I’m your new head coach.”

Watch out, SEC East.

Vanderbilt fans have already bought in.

Photo Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports



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  • You had me believing this story until that very last line that says “Vanderbilt fans have already bought in.” Sorry but everyone knows that Vandy doesn’t have fans so this story is false! haha. Honestly though, it was an excellent hire. However, I don’t see them getting anywhere close to winning the east……ever.

    • You’re right. Those must have been the Birmingham locals who showed up for the Compass Bowl (easily 30,000 in Black and Gold for a game that we were disappointed to get). I understand the joke, and I have written on here before about how Vandy will have a hard time ever matching the fan base size of most SEC schools due to how small it is and the fact that UT historically has a more successful football program and gets picked up by more unassociated Tennesseans as a result. But saying that we can ever come close winning the East is just ignorant. Look at Stanford and what they have done. There is no reason that Vanderbilt can’t accomplish the same things.

  • I am a Bama guy and I usually pull for Vandy in the East. I think this is a great hire and even a potential step up from Franklin. Vandy may not be a perennial power but I think if they keep this up, my Tide may see them in Atlanta soon.

  • @Fred Giles, strong response. Sound logic displayed throughout. I am now convinced of your point of view, and am a better educated, more rounded fan for having read your response.

    //end sarcasm

  • “How attractive is it? Vanderbilt is 24-16 over the past three seasons and 16-4 over the past 20 games. Only Alabama has a better record over the same 20 games, a far cry from the 4-20 program Franklin inherited.”

    I knew they’ve had a solid last 2 seasons, but this is incredible. If you asked 1,000 SEC fans who had the 2nd best record amongst SEC teams over the last 20 games, I bet 1,000 get that answer wrong. I sure would have. Good hire Vandy…..

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