Derek Mason is the SEC’s newest head coach, and he’s about to jump all in on the Commodores in spring practice. Mason will try and turn Vanderbilt into the Stanford of the East, as he passed up several opportunities to get to where he is today leading the Vanderbilt program.

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In a Q&A with ESPN, Mason was asked about his impression of the SEC when he coached in the Pac-12. Mason contends the SEC may be the better conference overall, but the Pac-12 is better top to bottom than the SEC. He says the SEC is better in ‘the upper half’.

How did you view the SEC from afar while coaching in the Pac-12?

DM: I view the SEC as the best football conference in the country, bar none. But I think what that speaks to is how those teams are at the top and what they’ve been able to do in winning BCS national championships. Now, I think the Pac-12 is deep from top to bottom. Anybody can win that thing. I don’t care who you’re talking about. Anybody can win it, and it’s a quarterback’s conference. You have top quarterbacks going at it week by week by week. If you look at the statistical numbers, it proves it. It lends itself to a different brand of ball top to bottom. So as I compare the Pac-12 to the SEC, I think the SEC is better in the upper half, but I think the Pac-12 is better from top to bottom. But I would still give the edge to the SEC in terms of what it looks like and how the game is played.

Mason gives the home team (SEC) the edge, but he still carries a little Pac-12 pride with him. That’s obvious.

Mason’s thoughts somewhat echo Bob Stoops’ comments about a top-heavy conference, while other conferences are better from top to bottom. Only Mason says the Pac-12 is better top to bottom, while Stoops says the Big 12 is.

The SEC finished 1-1 against the Pac-12, with Oregon beating Tennessee and Auburn beating Washington State. I would love to see SEC teams play more Pac-12 teams.

Let’s see how and if Mason’s view changes after one full SEC season in 2014.