It's official. Six days after losing James Franklin to Penn State, Vanderbilt has filled his shoes with one of the hottest assistants in the NCAA.
Derek Mason, formerly Stanford's defensive coordinator, is now Vanderbilt football's head coach.
The university confirmed the news after a morning of speculation and giddy reports across the college football landscape. Terms of his contract were not disclosed.
Stanford Associate Head Coach Derek Mason Named New Vanderbilt Head Coach Nashville, Tenn. – Derek Mason, regarded as one of the nation’s top coordinators, is the new head football coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores.
..."We are very pleased with our search. It was evident that the football world is aware of the tremendous progress our program has made and that was reflected by the deep pool of talent that showed an interest in our position," [Athletic Director David] Williams said. "We talked to outside experts and did our own evaluations and the person that always seemed to be in the spotlight was the same person that was at the top of our list and that was Derek Mason.
- Vanderbilt University Official Release
Mason is only the fifth African-American head coach in SEC history. He'll succeed Franklin as the Commodores' second black leader in school history.
The lauded Stanford assistant met with the team on Friday afternoon before the formal announcement.
I am so excited to be at Vanderbilt," Mason said. "This university combines the best of what’s good about college athletics and academics. We expect to be competitive and look forward to competing for an SEC East crown.
- Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason
He'll have a tough few weeks ahead of him as he moves to fill out his coaching staff and lure recruits to Nashville with National Signing Day less than three weeks away. Fans have been pushing hard for him to retain Commodore holdovers Herb Hand, Rod Chance, and Charles Bankins, but Mason may have other plans. Early rumors have suggested that he'll look to the University of Ohio to find his assistants early on. Gerry Gdowski (quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator at Ohio), Jason Grooms (assistant athletic director), and Keven Lightner (offensive line coach) are the first three names to be floated as potential hires. It is unknown what roles they would fill in Nashville if they were to join Mason's staff.
Vanderbilt parted ways with an all-star coach in James Franklin, but the Commodores have replaced him with another rising star in Derek Mason.