Created: 01/17/2014 5:26 PM
By: TERESA M. WALKER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt took less than a week before filling its vacant head football coaching position, announcing Friday the university had tabbed Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason.
Mason will be introduced at a news conference Saturday morning.
"I am so excited to be at Vanderbilt," Mason said in the release. "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, 44, has spent the past four seasons at Stanford where academic requirements and recruiting challenges are similar to Vanderbilt. He joined former coach Jim Harbaugh's staff in 2010 as a defensive backs coach after serving in the same position with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings from 2007-09.
He was promoted to co-defensive coordinator and associate head coach when David Shaw took over in January 2011. He has had complete control over the unit the last two years.
Mason replaces James Franklin who left for Penn State on Jan. 11. Vanderbilt wrapped up its search in exactly a week, and athletic director David Williams said they are very happy with their search. Williams said they found the football world is aware of Vanderbilt's progress, resulting in lots of interest in the job.
"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," Williams said..
Mason takes over a program that is in much better shape than the last time Vanderbilt hired a coach in 2010. Franklin took over a program that had gone 4-20 over the previous two seasons. Now Vanderbilt is 24-16 over the past three seasons, and the Commodores are 16-4 over the past 20 games — second in the Southeastern Conference only to Alabama.
Vanderbilt also has won consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history and finished in the final Associated Press poll each of the past two seasons, including No. 24 for 2013. Vanderbilt hadn't finished in the final AP poll before Franklin arrived since 1948 under Red Sanders.
But a recruiting class that had been ranked in the Top 25 before Franklin left has been losing commitments left and right, forcing Mason to try and salvage a class before signing day Feb. 5.
(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)