For a conference with just one head coaching change this offseason, the SEC experienced as much coaching turnover as any league in the nation in the form of coordinators, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Auburn, Florida, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt all brought in new defensive coordinators for 2015, and each coach faces a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed right away in a tightly contested conference.

Will Muschamp will be expected to turn around Auburn’s defense almost immediately, as the Tigers have the talent (especially on offense) to contend in the West right away. He was one of the most coveted coordinators on the market this offseason, and the expectation is he’ll prove himself to be a “home-run hire” early in his tenure by elevating Auburn’s defense to match the offense.

John Chavis could use a huge year at Texas A&M to turn some attention away from his ugly ongoing divorce with LSU, or to at least validate his change of scenery and pay raise that helped inspire the move.

Jon Hoke was brought in from the NFL to revive a South Carolina defense that inarguably cost the Gamecocks last year, and he’ll have plenty of touted incoming signees to help in that initiative. Geoff Collins will look to recreate his Psycho Defense with Florida’s new regime, while Barry Odom is hoping to pick up where former DC Dave Steckel left off when he took a head coaching job at Missouri State.

But the new defensive coordinator facing the most pressure in the SEC this season actually belongs to one of the least-talked-about teams in the conference; he’s not new to the league, only new to his role, but he’ll be expected to produce right away nonetheless.

Derek Mason, the man who once led the only Pac-12 defense capable of stifling the high-powered Oregon offense, sat and watched last season as his Vanderbilt defense allowed more than 400 yards per game, ranking in the bottom five of the league. His defensive prowess at Stanford is what earned him the head coaching job at Vandy last offseason, and his team’s defensive struggles were not well received by fans in Nashville.

Mason’s Commodores endured their fair share of struggles on offense as well, but the defense did not do its part. Mason fired both his coordinators following a dreadful 3-9 season.

The head coach put plenty of pressure on himself when he named himself Vandy’s new DC, as now there is nowhere for Mason to hide should the defense continue to struggle in the coming season. Expectations may be lower at Vandy than other SEC schools, but the ‘Dores aren’t far removed from consecutive nine-win seasons under former coach James Franklin, and fans now know that’s a possibility once in a while.

That’s the new standard Mason must live up to; not the standard set by decades of Vandy football futility, but the standard set by the Franklin-era Commodores. He might not reach bowl eligibility this year, but he needs to win more than three games (a win in SEC play would be nice) and show team-wide improvement, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Mason reportedly interviewed outside candidates to fill the DC vacancy, including one NFL candidate, before deciding on himself. That’ll also add pressure to Mason’s situation, as he is now on record as choosing himself from among a pool of candidates. If that decision proves to be the wrong one, Mason will find himself on the outside of the Vandy program in a blink. And he owns that.

“I understand our talent,” Mason said to Online Athens. “I understand, schematically, what I want to do, and I understand how to compete with these some of these offensive schemes we’re seeing. I moved from talking to other people to spending a little more time with my staff for some feedback, and in the end, I decided instead of going outside, I’d just keep it in-house.”

It’s pretty clear that Mason had better deliver or face serious consequences. That’s the case for any coach, but Mason raised the stakes by not only hiring himself, but doing so when NFL names were under consideration based on the criteria he spelled out above.

Muschamp and Chavis are both bigger, more accomplished names, especially in the SEC, but the time is now for Mason to prove he made the right call. He’s a head coach who hired himself; it’s tough to imagine facing any more pressure than that.