NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NewsChannel 5/The Associated Press) – Vanderbilt University has named Derek Mason as their new head coach, replacing James Franklin as the next leader of the 'Dores. Mason was officially introduced during a press conference on Saturday.
Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams said Mason was selected from a list of nearly 60 coaching candidates, most of whom had either college or NFL coaching experience. Williams thanked the student athletes for their trust and support in their search for a head coach.
"It's not about who's leaving," said athletic director David Williams. "It's about who's staying."
Mason last served as associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Stanford University. He began by thanking the Commodore nation for their support and for coming out to the complex Saturday morning.
Mason reassured Vandy fans of his loyalty to the university, the athletic department, and the City of Nashville.
"This job means everything to me," Mason said before a packed room. "This is where I want to be, this is where I plan on spending the rest of my career. We will win. Make sure of that. Make no doubts about that. I understand what college football's about. It's about winning, and you hired a winner for sure."
Mason, 44, spent the past four seasons at Stanford working first for Jim Harbaugh, then David Shaw the last two as defensive coordinator. This is Mason's first head coaching job in a career that started in 1994, and he said he wanted this job so much that he packed a black suit for his first interview in Atlanta — site of the SEC title game.
He made clear he understands Vanderbilt's priority as a top academic university is graduating players, with winning just as important on the field.
"SEC East title, here we come," Mason said. "Make no bones about it. If you can't talk about it, you can't be about it."
"Derek Mason is the leader we trust to continue the challenging but exciting work that has elevated the Vanderbilt football program to unprecedented heights," said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. "He embodies integrity, strategic thinking and a demonstrated commitment to success. He understands the important role that athletics plays in the life of a vibrant university, and that outstanding scholarly pursuits and top-notch sports are integral parts of the Vanderbilt experience. We are thrilled to welcome him to the Vanderbilt community."
CBSSports.com reported that Mason had a second interview with the Commodores on Friday morning. ESPN.com reported Friday afternoon that the job had officially been offered to him and contractual details were being finalized Friday, according to a source.
Mason takes over a program that has seen consecutive nine-win seasons, three straight bowl berths and postseason Top 25 rankings for the first time in team history. Vandy's 9-4 record in 2012 was the program's best since 1915.
"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."
Mason has been the defensive coordinator at Stanford since 2001 and helped take the team to the Rose Bowl in 2013 and 2014. Under Mason, the Cardinal ranked among the NCAA national Top 15 in defensive efficiency for three consecutive years.
Mason helped Stanford slow down hurry-up offenses and read-option runs and beat Pac-12 division rival Oregon the past two years. That had about a half-dozen NFL teams sending coaches last summer for tutorials on Mason's defensive schemes.
In 2012, Mason was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given year to the nation's top assistant coach.
He is a native of Phoenix, Arizona Derek and his wife, Leighanne, have two daughters, Makenzie, 14, and Sydney, 13.
(Copyright 2014 NewsChannel 5/The Associated
Press. All rights reserved.)
Students in the Academy of Energy and Power at Maplewood are busy getting ready for next week's Project Expo and had the opportunity to show it off some of their projects to Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.