Vanderbilt is coming off its second-consecutive nine win season. However it will be replacing former head coach James Franklin, who left to take the Penn State job. Stepping into his place, and up to the podium on Monday, was new head coach Derek Mason.
Mason, who had been the defensive coordinator at Stanford for the last two seasons, will look to bring what he learned at Stanford to Vanderbilt.
“As I look at my path, it’s been a fun one,” Mason said. “The opportunity to be out at Stanford with David Shaw, it was outstanding. But now with this opportunity, it’s a great one.”
Vanderbilt is going through many changes beyond just the head coaching position.
Can Vanderbilt become "Stanford East?"
Mason faced many questions to about his experience at Stanford and how he could translate his success from one academically rigorous school to another.
“In terms of looking at who we are, overall the similarities between the two schools are evident: good academic institutions that play really good football,” Mason said.
But Mason also says that the situation he first came into at Stanford was not the as what he is walking into at Vanderbilt.
“When you look at challenges, I think at Stanford, [former coach] Jim [Harbaugh] had already recruited a certain type of young man that fit that scheme, and that system," Mason said. For us at Vanderbilt, we’re actually changing over in the scheme right now both offensively and defensively.”
Who is going to play quarterback?
Vanderbilt has yet to decide on a starting quarterback for the season and Mason added that it is a six-man competition as to who will be the starter. But Mason has a timetable as to when he will name his guy.
“First game. When I look at naming a quarterback, I’m not going to be pressed into naming a quarterback," Mason said. "I think what we’ll do is we’ll go through the process.“
Mason mentions sophomore Patton Robinette has a leg up on the competition, but that guys like LSU-transfer Stephen Rivers and Wade Freebeck have a chance to win.
Mason also added that when a starter is named, there will be no wavering or two-quarterback system.
“For what we’re doing and how we want to do it, a two quarterback system is not the way I want to go,” Mason said. “I believe there should be a starter and there should be a guy behind him to watch and learn the situation.”
How has recruiting been affected by Mason's arrival?
When Franklin left in January, many of Vanderbilt’s recruits left with him. With a few weeks before signing day, the Commodores had as few as nine recruits committed to the school.
Mason finished strong with a total of 22 commitments. Mason had some very strong words on his recruiting policy and playing freshmen
“Vanderbilt is a national brand,” Mason said. “I think understanding the branding where we are. In terms of getting the best student-athlete who understands what we do scheme-wise is where we’re headed.”
“I don’t care about the two-or-three star. Go back and look at [former Vanderbilt receiver] Jordan Matthews, two-star player," Mason said. "[Seattle Seahawks cornerback] Richard Sherman, was he even a star? I care about what they put on tape.”