When James Franklin left the Vanderbilt Commodores to become head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, many in the Nashville community feared that the Vanderbilt program might suffer. Fans saw a return to the bottom of the Southeastern Conference as a real possibility. After all, Vanderbilt had never experienced the kind of success it had during Franklin’s three-year stint as head coach.
However, it appears that the run of success could continue for the ‘Dores, after athletic director David Williams announced that Derek Mason had been hired as the program’s new head coach.
What makes Mason such a good fit at Vanderbilt? The fact that he comes to Nashville after a stint as defensive coordinator for the Stanford Cardinal is the main reason. Mason has had to deal with the high academic standards at Stanford, and will be in a similar situation with Vandy.
Mason also comes from a program that has made regular appearances in the national rankings, and even the Top 10, over the past few years. He is accustomed to coaching in a high-level program, which is the mindset that Vanderbilt needs to continue. After all, only two programs in the SEC Eastern Division have finished the last two seasons ranked – the South Carolina Gamecocks and Vanderbilt.
The stage is set for Mason. Franklin left behind a program that is in much better shape now than it was prior to his arrival in the Music City. Mason could be the one to reap the benefits of strong recruiting classes, improved facilities and a more engaged fan base. And if he can, Vandy’s run of unprecedented success will continue.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.