Vanderbilt's days-long search for James Franklin's replacement may be over soon. 247Sports is reporting that Derek Mason, Defensive Coordinator at Stanford, has been pegged to become Vanderbilt's new football coach.
— Shannon B. Terry (@sbterry247) January 17, 2014
Getting Mason would be a huge boost to a defense that will bring back a stocked defensive line and a secondary loaded with emerging talent. The Stanford assistant built the Cardinal into one of the NCAA's most formidable teams in his three years as DC. Last season, his team held opponents to just 19 points per game - an especially impressive feat given the Pac-12's high octane offenses. During his tenure as a coordinator, Stanford has gone to three straight BCS Bowls.
If true, that means that Mason would have earned the job over Clemson assistant Chad Morris, who was rumored to have been Vanderbilt's other top choice. While both coaches have all sorts of hype following them, they bring two different philosophies to the gridiron. Morris, who developed Tahj Boyd into a powerhouse at Clemson, has his roots on the offensive side of the field. Mason, on the other hand, will likely rely on his assistants to turn Vandy back into a high-scoring SEC program.
That could be good news for Offensive Line Coach Herb Hand. Hand has been working overtime to keep the Vanderbilt football program intact in the wake of Franklin's departure. He has a great track record of building Vandy players up and has a strong connection to the fans in Nashville. When you add in the work he did to create a relentless offense as a co-coordinator at Tulsa back in 2007 and 2008, you may have put together the resume needed to be the Commodores' next offensive coordinator.
Neither the university nor Mason have come out with any official confirmation or denial of this report. We'll have more details as they develop.
Update 1: Jeff Lockridge and David Williams swing by to rain on our parade.
Just spoke w/#Vandy AD David Williams: "We haven't even made an offer to anybody. No comment on where we are with the interviews ..."— Jeff Lockridge (@jefflockridge) January 17, 2014
Williams (cont.): "... But we're still going to talk to a number of people. We have not made an offer to anyone."— Jeff Lockridge (@jefflockridge) January 17, 2014
Update 2: Mason is expected to be offered the job this afternoon. Will he accept? Well...
Mason called #Vandy a great job and a great opportunity. "Who's not going to say yes?" Very interested and excited about possibility— Jeff Lockridge (@jefflockridge) January 17, 2014
Update 3: VandySports.com confirms 247's reports:
Update 4: And now the players are confirming it as well. Not just Vandy players either:
A new era has begun! Welcome to Vandy Coach Derek Mason! #AnchorDown— Patrick Sutton ⚓™ (@suttonimpaQt) January 17, 2014