Vanderbilt is in its first day of the coaching search to find the coach to replace Derek Mason, who was fired on Sunday.

Athletics director Candice Storey Lee held a press conference on Monday, and outlined the next steps in the process, and what she’s looking for in the next coach. Lee said the timing is because the season would’ve been over now, and because signing day is Dec. 16.

“There’s some complexity that comes from COVID,” she said. “If you think about the timing, if this was not a COVID year, Saturday would’ve been the end of the regular season.”

Even though the season is expected to stretch to Dec. 19, Lee noted that what didn’t change is the early signing period.

Lee said she called all football commitments yesterday. She told them that they will hire a coach as quickly as they can. Before signing day? Hopefully, but not necessarily.

As for the type of coach, Lee said she would be open minded.

“Having said that, demonstrated ability to run a program (is important),” she said, and added that head coaching experience is something she’s interested in but not a deal-breaker. “Offensive-minded coach is something I’m interested in. Doesn’t mean that the head coach has to be an offensive coach, but staff will matter.”

Lee said about the current program, “the cupboard is not bare. We do have some talent in our program.” She will want to know how candidates plan to “maximize” current players in program.

“We play games to win, and we can’t be afraid to say that,” she said.

Lee also explained why Vanderbilt is an attractive job. If you were to build the athletic department from scratch, she said the Commodores have it all. Top conference? Check. Academics? Check. Talent? Check. Lee explains how all pieces are in place.

“We have the opportunity to put our money where our mouth is.”

H/T Adam Sparks, Robbie Weinstein, Vandy Hustler Sports.