Vandy’s Derek Mason: Pac-12 is better top to bottom than SEC


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.

MORE: SEC vs. Non-conference opponents in 2013

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.



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  • Sure. example one: Missouri lead by their 3rd string QB, beat Arizona State in 2012, then went on to go 2-6 in the SEC often starting their 1st string QB. example two: Look at the Pac 12 bowl records top to bottom and the SEC bowl records top to bottom. A. the SEC qualifies more teams for bowls B. the SEC has a far better win loss record in bowls for practical historical comparison. Coach Mason, you are off to a bad start with understanding the strength of conferences. The bottom of the PAC is about the same as he bottom of the Big 12 and Big 10, it might be better than the bottom of the ACC but I’m not even sure that can be backed up.

  • “Now, I think the Pac-12 is deep from top to bottom. Anybody can win that thing.” Either Stanford, Oregon, or USC have won the pac12 title each of the last 10 years. We have seen Auburn, Georiga, Florida, LSU, and Alabama win an SEC title in that time frame. The downside of a hiring a CEO coach like Mason, Franklin, or Les Miles is that they are good with kids, but are lacking in football knowledge as illustrated above.

  • Well sure when we have bottom feeders like Vandy dragging the SEC down. I kid! (Well…)

  • “The bottom of the SEC is weak.” That’s always the line that these Big 12 and Pac-12 coaches come up with but it doesn’t hold water. Programs like Mississippi St.,Vanderbilt, Ole Miss,Kentucky,etc. regularly win bowl games.

  • Yet I have a funny feeling he will be looking at the SEC with a view from near the bottom annually. He’s going to have a rude awakening that the lower tier SEC teams are every bit as tough to beat as the lower tier PAC teams.

  • Welcome to the bottome pal. Now get busy. And, Good Luck !!!

  • I think he just signed his own death certificate.

  • Really? The bottom of the SEC is weak? MSU finished 9th in the league this past season, yet destroyed the outright CUSA champ Rice 44-7 in the Liberty Bowl, Ole Miss finished 10th and beat GT who is always a pretty decent ACC team, and TAMU who finished with the same record as Vandy (tied for the 7/8 spots), yet beat the #2 ACC team in Duke…So explain to me again how the bottom half isn’t as good? I guess it’s because Peyton Manning isn’t playing at Tennessee anymore and winning NCs, and because Arkansas’ program has been gutted and destroyed the last few years since the Petrino era, and because Kentucky is a basketball school….that must be it….

  • Poor fella… gonna get his ass kicked on a regular basis by the weak bottom of the SEC.

  • ..and here’s the bad part of what he said. People like me who would regularly pull for Vandy will do so no more.

  • I think it’s so funny when other coaches or fans say stuff like that. The SEC is by for the toughest and best conference top to bottom. Just look at recruiting, even the bottom half of the SEC bring in really good recruiting classes. Also if you look at the bowl wins. The Pac 12 doesn’t have anywhere near the type of talent the SEC does, actually no conference as anywhere near the type of talent the SEC does. Mason said that the Pac 12 is a QB league, well they may have a some good QB’s, but their QBs don’t have to play against the defenses and players that are in the SEC. Just look at this past season, the SEC had a lot of really good QBs, Manziel, Murray, Mettenburger, McCarron, Shaw, James just to name a few.

  • Has he ever played an SEC football team? I have a feeling he’ll lern plenty about the Southeastern Conference this fall…

  • Has he ever played an SEC football team? I have a feeling he’ll learn plenty about the Southeastern Conference this fall…

  • Why are coaches comparing bottom tier teams to make an argument that the SEC is weak? It’s the bottom tier for a reason but I’d still bet that if you lined Pac-12 up from 1st to last and played against the SEC, 1st to last, the SEC would win that. The SEC would beat any conference in that scenario.

  • Dear Derek,
    Outside of USC, Stanford and Oregon and with the exceptions of another team or two every now and then the PAC 12 does not have a team that could survive an SEC schedule. Those 3 teams are the PAC 12. The rest free load on those 3 teams reputations except on the rare occasions where they have a once a decade football team.

    My advice to you Dereck is to quit making foolish, ridiculous statements and spend your time coaching rather than building up the paper tigers of the Pac 12. People that really know football are not fooled by your comments.