The Louisville Cardinals are getting set to make the transition from the AAC to the ACC in 2014 and will have to do it without the man who has built the program up over the last four years. With Charlie Strong set to take over the Texas Longhorns, the school will need to find a new leader to take them into uncharted waters next season. According to reports, the school already has their sights set on Derek Mason, current defensive coordinator of the Stanford Cardinal.
Mason has built Stanford into one of the most consistently excellent defenses in the country. He joined the staff in 2010 as the secondary coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2011 when head coach David Shaw took over the program. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2012, given annually to the top assistant coach in college football, and oversaw a Cardinal defense this season that ranked in the top-15 nationally in just about every category.
He is one of the hot names in assistant coaches right now for head coaching jobs, but could be difficult to pry away from Stanford. Leading up to the Rose Bowl Game, Mason told reporters that he turned down interview opportunities with the Army Black Knights and Connecticut Huskies in addition to declining overtures from the Washington Huskies before they hired Chris Petersen away from the Boise State Broncos. He has said on more than one occasion over the last year that his family is happy at Stanford and that he wouldn’t leave the program for just any job.
“It’s got to be the right job. David had his one right job, and it was Stanford. And I have mine. That’s between me and my wife, and it’s a ways away.”
That doesn’t sound like a coach looking for an opportunity to leave Palo Alto anytime soon. But Mason does have connections with Louisville as he and Cardinals’ athletic director Tom Jurich have roots at Northern Arizona where Mason played defensive back. Louisville is an attractive job as the program is on the rise right now with a huge amount of talent thanks to the building efforts of Strong over the last four seasons.
But the question for Louisville is whether or not they are the “right” job for Mason. The third-year defensive coordinator seems content to learn under Shaw for now and is in no hurry to rush into a head coaching job that he doesn’t want. Is this the opportunity he’s been waiting for?