Vanderbilt may not have shown it in recent seasons under the leadership of Derek Mason but the Commodore program does have a lot to sell to recruits.

Just ask Clark Lea, who is a living example of the success a graduate of the school can produce.

Instead of running from Vanderbilt’s elite academic tradition, as some coaches have done, the first-year head coach said his program will embrace that fact during a Thursday appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show.

“We are the outlier in the league, I mean, we’re unique in every single aspect. And I think it’s very easy – it’s just the attitude you want to bring to it,” Lea shared on the show. “It’s very easy to look at that and see negatives, but we choose to see it as an incredible positive. When I mention this being a strategic decision for me, I think framing it that way, look the opportunity to recruit high-level, high reaching, high-achieving young people that are going to be looking for a reason not to compromise. They’re going to be looking for something of substance.

“We want to drive an environment here where footballs as important in school, and we don’t back down from that. This is not about coming to a program just to get an education. We believe our program’s an education, too. And so we want to find that person that wants to play in the NFL, that wants to get an excellent education, that wants to be grown in an environment where they’re going to be built into but also challenged at a high level, and we feel like that person produces winning football winning results on the field.

“And then again, for me, once you get a staff in place that embraces all those unique aspects. You really have a totally different outlook on what’s possible here.”

You may roll your eyes at Lea suggesting his program will be able to sell its ability to get players to the NFL but one look at his first-year coaching staff suggests the new Vanderbilt coach is very serious about that aspect of the program.

Both of his coordinator hires (offensive coordinator David Raih and defensive coordinator Jesse Minter) were hired from NFL coaching staffs. That’s not something that Vanderbilt could sell in recent seasons but it’s a new era on West End under Lea.