Derek Mason

Last updated

Derek Mason
Mason2021.jpg
Mason in 2021
Current position
Title Defensive coordinator
Team Auburn
Conference SEC
Biographical details
Born (1969-09-29) September 29, 1969 (age 51)
Phoenix, Arizona
Playing career
1989–1992 Northern Arizona
Position(s) Cornerback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1994 Mesa CC (WR)
1995–1996 Weber State (WR)
1997–1998 Idaho State (RB)
1999–2001 Bucknell (DB)
2002 Utah (WR/ST)
2003 St. Mary's (AHC/Co-DC)
2004 New Mexico State (WR)
2005–2006 Ohio (WR)
2007–2009 Minnesota Vikings (Asst. DB)
2010 Stanford (DB)
2011Stanford (AHC/Co-DC/DB)
2012–2013Stanford (AHC/DC)
2014–2020 Vanderbilt
2021–present Auburn (DC)
Head coaching record
Overall27–55
Bowls0–2

Derek Mason (born September 29, 1969) is an American college football coach who is currently the defensive coordinator for the Auburn Tigers. He was the head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores football team from 2014 to 2020.

Contents

Early life and playing career

Mason attended Camelback High School in Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating from high school, he attended Northern Arizona University from 1989 to 1992, where he was a four-year letterman and two-year starter at cornerback. [1]

Coaching career

After his playing career ended, Mason coached college football at Mesa Community College, Weber State, Bucknell, Utah, St. Mary's, New Mexico State, and Ohio. From 2007 to 2009, he coached defensive backs for the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL under Brad Childress, who had been one of his coaches at Northern Arizona.

Stanford

In 2010, Mason was hired as defensive backs coach on Jim Harbaugh's staff at Stanford. In 2011, Mason was promoted to associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator under new head coach David Shaw. [1] In 2012, Mason became the sole defensive coordinator for the Cardinal and was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in college football. [1] In 2013, the defensive coordinator position was endowed and named the Willie Shaw Director of Defense. [1]

Vanderbilt

On January 17, 2014, Vanderbilt hired Mason as its new head football coach, succeeding James Franklin. [2] With the hire, Vanderbilt is the first and only school in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) to have multiple minority head football coaches in its history. After back–to–back home losses, Mason won his first game as head coach against UMass by a score of 34–31. Vanderbilt had been outscored 10–78 in the two games prior to the win. [3] The Commodores struggled offensively for much of the season. Vanderbilt did not score an offensive touchdown for nine quarters and was the last Division I team to reach the end zone on offense. [4]

After a disappointing first season in Nashville, Mason fired both his offensive and defensive coordinators. He hired Andy Ludwig, formerly the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, to run the offense. Mason decided to call the defensive plays himself.

His second season saw moderate growth for Vanderbilt, culminating in a 4–8 record with numerous firsts for the young head coach. Mason earned his first win against an SEC opponent (against Missouri) and his first win while on the road (at Middle Tennessee State University). The team was praised for a nationally respected defensive scheme, but the Commodores were unable to perform equally well with their offensive or special team capabilities. [5]

Mason continued his role as head coach and defensive coordinator in his third season at Vanderbilt, leading the Commodores to a 6–6 (3–5 SEC) record in 2016, earning bowl eligibility for the first time as a head coach. Mason won his first SEC road game on October 15 at Georgia by the final score of 17–16. The Commodores nearly picked up another road win against a ranked conference opponent on November 5 at Auburn, losing 23–16 after throwing a late interception at the opponents' 30 yard line in the final minute.

After a disappointing loss to Missouri the next week, the Commodores needed to beat both Ole Miss and Tennessee at home in the team's final two games of the season to assure themselves of bowl eligibility, though they would have still reached a bowl with a 5–7 record based on a high Academic Performance Rating (APR), which determines the bowl eligibility of five win teams for open bowl slots. APR became a non-factor as the Commodores upset both Ole Miss and Tennessee at home in back-to-back games to end the regular season with a 6–6 record on the strength of 3 conference wins. Vandy scored a combined 83 points in the two wins as the offense came alive late in the season. Mason's dancing on the sideline and post-game celebration after defeating Tennessee were widely shared on Twitter and ESPN. [6]

Under Mason, redshirt junior linebacker Zach Cunningham became a national finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's best collegiate linebacker.

Year four for Mason was a disappointing regression. Despite an historic 3–0 start, including defeating a then 18th ranked Kansas State at home in week 3 [7] and ending a five-year losing streak of opening games since 2012, the Commodores finished 5–7 and were unable to play in a bowl game despite APR. Derek Mason was unable to answer the Alabama Crimson Tide in week 4, and experienced a five-game losing streak until hosting Western Kentucky in week 10. However, despite their lackluster performance, Vanderbilt was able to defeat the University of Tennessee, ensuring the Volunteers first ever 8 loss season. [8]

The 2018 season began with Mason considered on the hot seat, one of 10 coaches identified by ESPN to be facing this challenge. [9] He is the first Vanderbilt football coach to beat the Tennessee Volunteers three years in a row since Dan McGugin did it in 1926, 1925, and 1924.

Mason helped the program make history in 2020 by introducing Sarah Fuller, the school's women's soccer goalkeeper, into a November 28 game against Missouri. Fuller was the first woman to play in a game for a Power Five conference team, kicking off the second half, although Fuller never got a chance to kick a field goal or an extra point that day with Vanderbilt falling to Missouri 41–0 and 0–8 on the season. Fuller's appearance was not enough to offset seven consecutive seasons with a losing record, and the next day Mason was fired. (Fuller did convert two extra points during her next appearance, at home against Tennessee on December 12.)

Auburn

On January 7, 2021, former Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason was hired as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator. [10]

Personal life

Mason and his wife, LeighAnne, have two daughters, Sydney and Makenzie. Makenzie is a lacrosse player for the University of Florida. [11]

Head coaching record

YearTeamOverallConferenceStandingBowl/playoffs
Vanderbilt Commodores (Southeastern Conference)(2014–2020)
2014 Vanderbilt 3–90–87th (Eastern)
2015 Vanderbilt 4–82–6T–4th (Eastern)
2016 Vanderbilt 6–73–5T–5th (Eastern)L Independence
2017 Vanderbilt 5–71–76th (Eastern)
2018 Vanderbilt 6–73–56th (Eastern)L Texas
2019 Vanderbilt 3–91–77th (Eastern)
2020 Vanderbilt 0–8*0–8*(Eastern)
Vanderbilt:27–5510–46*Fired after 8 games.
Total:27–55

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 "Bio: Derek Mason". Stanford Department of Athletics. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  2. "Vanderbilt hires Stanford's Derek Mason". Tennessean. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  3. "Even UMass picking on Vandy!" . Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  4. "UMass vs. Vanderbilt - Box Score - September 13, 2014 - ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  5. "Strong Vanderbilt defense has slowed top-15 offenses". The Tennessean. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  6. Tapp, Connor (November 26, 2016). "Derek Mason was feeling himself after Vandy beat Tennessee". 247Sports.com . Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  7. "Vanderbilt football win over Kansas State one for the history books" . Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  8. "Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee - Game Recap - November 25, 2017 - ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  9. "ESPN places 2 SEC coaches on hot seat for 2018". January 3, 2018. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  10. https://oanow.com/sports/college/auburn/auburn-hires-former-vanderbilt-head-coach-derek-mason-as-defensive-coordinator/article_10e7dc94-5144-11eb-83de-0b651b290e66.html
  11. "Makenzie Mason - 2018 Lacrosse Roster - Florida Gators". floridagators.com. Retrieved June 1, 2018.