The Vanderbilt Commodores have owned the state of Tennessee in recent years, beating the in-state rival Volunteers the past three seasons in a row.

That’s obviously a point of pride for Vanderbilt fans, but when asked about it at SEC Media Days on Thursday, coach Derek Mason said it’s all about the bigger picture.

Mason said the past is the past, but beating Tennessee simply means Vanderbilt has to be included as a relevant team within the division:

“There’s a big battlefield going on in the SEC East right now,” he said. “We can’t worry about the past and what happened with us and Tennessee in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It simply means that we’re relevant in the SEC East conversation.”

Vanderbilt has excellent skill position players returning in 2019, but there are question marks at quarterback and along the offensive line.

Can the Commodores make it four in a row against the Vols? They’ll close the regular season against one another on Saturday, Nov. 30, in Knoxville.