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WTF Vandy? Administrative Failures, Round 2: (1) Eddie Fogler Walks vs. (4) Derek Mason’s Contract Extension

Ah, these two juxtaposed next to one another.

Eddie Fogler

(1) Vanderbilt AD Paul Hoolahan Lets Eddie Fogler Leave for South Carolina, 1993

The administrative ur-failure:

In the end, Eddie Fogler said his decision to leave Vanderbilt for South Carolina came down to respect rather than money.

“Here the last four weeks, it went from a financial issue to principle to me-what is fair, what is equitable, what is right,” Fogler said Monday in a news conference at Vanderbilt.

“It got past the financial issue-what started the issue two years ago-to principle to me, and another great option came along.”

Fogler, 44, was named coach of the year Friday after leading Vanderbilt to a 28-6 record and a berth in the NCAA tournament. He accepted the South Carolina job a day later and one week after Bobby Cremins backed out and decided to stay at Georgia Tech.

“I could’ve finished my coaching career here,” Fogler said. “I wouldn’t have left to go somewhere just because of finances. That would be ridiculous.”

So let’s rewind a bit. Eddie Fogler took over for C.M. Newton in 1989. In his first season, taking over a team that had lost its three leading scorers (Frank Kornet, Barry Goheen, and Barry Booker) from the previous year, the team won the NIT. The next year, they got to the NCAA Tournament. Fogler — who was being paid well below his peers in the SEC — asked for a raise after that season and didn’t get it. After a rebuilding year in 1991-92 with talented transfers Bill McCaffrey (Duke) and Chris Lawson (Indiana) sitting out, Fogler’s fourth team at Vanderbilt went 28-6, 14-2 in the SEC, won the SEC regular season title (Vanderbilt’s first SEC title since 1974, and its most recent SEC title as of this writing), and made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Fogler won the National Coach of the Year award, and a day later, he left Vanderbilt for South Carolina.

How this differed from James Franklin leaving 20 years later is clear. Franklin was going to leave Vanderbilt once Penn State came calling, and there really wasn’t much Vanderbilt could do to stop him. Fogler wanted to stay at Vanderbilt, but Chancellor Joe Wyatt and Athletic Director Paul Hoolahan, well...

“It was a financial issue, I don’t deny that,” Fogler said. “My financial situation was not the equal of my peers in the Southeastern Conference. I felt that should be looked at _ very nicely, I didn’t demand, I asked for that to be reviewed.”

The coach said that Vanderbilt chancellor Joe Wyatt didn’t respond to the request and that several people reported him to be out of town.

“Certainly, there’s phones in about every state I’ve been in,” he said.

Wyatt said in a statement Monday afternoon that he offered Thursday through the athletic director to speak with Fogler by telephone or to meet with him. But he said he doesn’t think a conversation would have changed things.

“ Certainly those conversations would not have altered the financial parameters under which Mr. (Paul) Hoolahan and the athletic department must operate ,” the statement read.

Fogler said he knew Vanderbilt could not come close to matching South Carolina’s offer of a base salary of $106,928, plus income from a shoe contract, a summer camp, and radio and television shows reaching at least another $250,000.

In other words: Eddie Fogler thought he deserved a raise — after winning the SEC and National Freaking Coach of the Year — and Joe Wyatt and Paul Hoolahan wouldn’t even talk to him.

And we think things are bad now. At least now we give the coach a raise whether he deserves one or not.

(4) Derek Mason Gets a Contract Extension, 2018

Derek Mason enters his seventh season as Vanderbilt’s head football coach this fall and the subject of his continued employment has been one of unending controversy for Vanderbilt fans.

How did it get here? Well, Mason went 3-9 in his first season, 4-8 in his second, and then 6-7 with a trip to the Independence Bowl in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, in his third. That got him a contract extension, which we’re going to blow past for now because you could at least argue that the team had shown consistent improvement in his second and third years and there was a need to show good faith if you weren’t going to get rid of him (which you weren’t.)

There was a bit of buyer’s remorse after the team fell back to 5-7 in 2017, but that brought a slight bounceback to 6-7 and a Texas Bowl appearance in 2018. The 2018 team, though, was frustrating for a few reasons. There were a handful of close losses in which coaching decisions seemed to play a role, particularly the staff’s usage of star running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. And in Year 5, it might have been reasonable to expect a bit more upside than what Mason had shown — never doing better than six wins (and in both instances needing a late-season rally to even get there.)

And then, Mason got another contract extension.

If there was buyer’s remorse in 2017, there was really buyer’s remorse in 2019, when the team went 3-9 complete with an ugly loss to UNLV, the sort of loss that hadn’t really been seen since the days of Woody Widenhofer. And yet, the contract extension presumably meant that Vanderbilt could not move on.


Which moment walks?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Eddie Fogler walks
    (86 votes)
  • 18%
    Derek Mason extended
    (20 votes)
106 votes total Vote Now