Kirk Herbstreit weighs in on Vanderbilt firing Derek Mason, gives his top candidate for the job
Vanderbilt fired coach Derek Mason on Sunday, leaving many to wonder who the next coach of the Commodores will be.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit shared his thoughts on the decision and who the Commodores should target next during this week’s episode of the “CFB Podcast with Herbie, Pollack & Neghandi.”
First, Herbstreit started by expressing his thoughts about Mason as a person, saying he has a tremendous amount of respect for the former Vanderbilt coach (via 247Sports):
“It is (tough),” Herbstreit said. “And Derek’s a good friend, and I love him to death. He’ll land on his feet. He’s a tremendous coach, great defensive mind, done a lot of good things before he got to Vandy. Of course, he was with David Shaw, probably most notably as a defensive coordinator (at Stanford). He’ll have opportunities, whether it’s in the NFL or college, again. But … it’s a tough job. Everybody knows that going in.
“I think what James Franklin did (as Vanderbilt’s head coach from 2011-13) — he kind of caught lightning in a bottle. I don’t have it right in front of me, but to be able to win as many games as he did during that three-year span — if you go back and look at where Georgia was, where Florida was and where Tennessee was, I think he hit it at the right time. That’s not to take away from what he accomplished, because those teams took the field and they had athletic ability and they played with a chip on their shoulder and they were outstanding. And so, he did a tremendous job and that’s what gave him the chance to be able to eventually go to Penn State. But yeah, I don’t know who they’re going to bring in.”
Herbstreit then went on to say Notre Dame DC Clark Lea would be atop his list of potential candidates:
“I know Clark Lea — he went to high school (where) my boys go to high school here, Montgomery Bell Academy, I think he went to Vandy,” said Herbstreit, who lives in Nashville. “So his name’s going to be prominent because of the job he’s doing with the Notre Dame defense. He’s going to be a head coach, whether it’s next season (or not). Jeff Hafley edged him out to get the (Boston College) job, so he’s a name that’s going to be out there.”
We’ll see where the Commodores decide to turn, but for now, whoever takes the job will have a lot of work to do.