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Hard To Argue With Mason, But It Would Have Been Fun To See Vandy Chase A Proven Head Coach

derek-masonJust as everyone from the Florida Keys to the Puget Sound questioned Vanderbilt’s hire of James Franklin — “Who’s he?” — folks from one coast to the other are proclaiming new hire Derek Mason to be the perfect man for the job.  His resume certainly checks all the right boxes:

 

*  At Stanford, he was part of a program that won big

*  He’s recruited students that fit Vanderbilt’s academic profile

*  He’s recruited the South, as he pointed out at his introductory presser

*  He’s served as defensive coordinator at a program that plays an SEC style of ball

*  He’s young, a former player and he’s coached in the NFL — which should help him communicate with his players and recruits

*  And he’s not short on confidence, saying “SEC East title, here we come,” during that aforementioned press conference

 

On the surface, he’s a near carbon copy of Franklin.  That’s a good thing.  Franklin may now be trying to tear down what he built up by chasing VU commits, but he did erect the Commodore program in the first place.  You can’t blame AD David Williams for trying to find someone with a resume akin to his last coach’s.

However — and mind you, this however is not a knock on Mason in any way — it would have been nice to see Vanderbilt take its newfound status as an honest-to-God football program with back-to-back top 25 finishes and see what kind of proven head coach the school could have landed.

There’s a scene in the film, “The American President” in which Micheal J. Fox’s character suggests the White House use the president’s high approval rating and “take it out for a spin.”  Well, it would have been nice to see VU use its current status to try and woo some proven guys.  Reports suggest the top two candidates aside from Mason were Clemson assistant Chad Morris and Indianapolis assistant Pep Hamilton.  Maybe Williams likes to hire guys while they’re still hungry.  Or maybe he did put out some early feelers to sitting head coaches only to be rebuffed.  (But if that had happened, it’s likely someone would have been given a raise at his current school.)

There are zero guarantees when it comes to hiring coaches, of course.  Franklin and Hugh Freeze were yawn hires outside of their new campuses.  They turned out to be terrific hires.  Last year, Bret Bielema was the “big name” hire that every fan craves.  He inherited a mess and has a long rebuild ahead of him, but a nine-game losing streak in Year One and the 11th best recruiting class in the SEC (as currently rated by Rivals.com) certainly can’t be classified as “hot start” material.

So there’s nothing to say that a guy who’s already served as a head coach somewhere would have arrived in Nashville and led Vanderbilt to greater heights than Mason might lead them to.  Again, it’s hard to argue with his resume.  And grabbing the D-coordinator from a team that won the Pac-12 last season does indeed indicate the amount of progress Vanderbilt has made under Williams, Bobby Johnson (who recruited a lot of the guys his replacement won with) and Franklin.

It just would have been fun to see if the Commodores could have been able to lure in a successful coach from the MAC, MWC or AAC with its newfound status as bowl-goin’ ballgame-winnin’ program.

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SEC Headlines 5/22/2013

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Les Miles bid to end permanent opposite-division rivals finds a backer in Matt Hayes: “Auburn, LSU and Florida are impacted most by the SEC’s standing scheduling rule of one permanent opponent from the opposite division.”

2. Seven Auburn signees have arrived on campus and enrolled in school.  Remaining 13 signees expected to enroll over the summer

3. Auburn fullback Jay Prosch is 6-foot, 259 pounds and has 5.9 percent body fat.

4. Prosch makes Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freak List”.  No. 1? South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.

5. Incoming Georgia freshman Shaun McGee on saying no to Nick Saban: “Anything he says to you, you’re kind of in awe because you’re like ‘Man, this is a really powerful guy.’ He was really hard to say ‘no’ to.”

6. Why sophomore kicker Marshall Morgan is one Georgia’s ten most important players this season.

7. What kind of impact can Ole Miss expect from senior offensive tackle Derrick Wilson.

SEC/College News

8. Longtime Vanderbilt booster John Rich dead at the age of 85.

9. Assessment of Tennessee A.D. Dave Hart: So far, so good.

10. Paul Finebaum headed to Charlotte to join ESPN.

11. Appeals court revives lawsuit by former Rutgers football player against video game maker Electronic Arts.

SEC Basketball

12. Vanderbilt A.D. David Williams asked about coach Kevin Stallings reportedly blocking Sheldon Jeter from transferring to Pittsburgh.  ”We, as an administrative body, stay out of the middle of that. I don’t investigate that. I don’t ask about it.”

13. LSU assistant coach Robert Kirby has resigned to take a similar job at Memphis.  Kirby had spent one-year at LSU, bulk of his career at Mississippi State.

Extras

14. “Joebots” trying to drive Bill O’Brien out of Penn State?

15. Memphis the favorite to host conference tournament for new AAC conference.

16. Hotdog, popcorn, or a glass of Merlot? University of Toledo wants to add beer and wine to its concession stand menu.

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