— CollegeFootballTalk (@CFTalk) January 17, 2014
Vanderbilt is reportedly going to hire Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason as their head coach. Mason has been linked to the Commodores by Football Scoop from the moment it was clear that James Franklin would be taking the Penn State job.
Mason knows how to recruit and coach at a school with high academic standards as he has been dealing with that in Palo Alto coaching the Cardinal under David Shaw. Vanderbilt has similar academic standards and is the lone SEC school that has a football program that can be held back because of them.
Mason is also notable because he is another African American getting a head coaching job in college football. Charlie Strong was hired at Texas and although the percentages are still low, African American head coaches are becoming less and less of a headline with time. While the issue should not be ignored, the hiring of minority head coaches is becoming less of a surprise, which is a move in a positive direction. With coaches like Shaw and Kevin Sumlin running excellent programs along with Strong getting one of the most highly recognized jobs in the country at Texas and Franklin going to Penn State, the landscape is much more welcoming to minority coaches that have been going to the NFL as quickly as possible in the past.
The Commodores are coming off of a 9-4 season with a win in the BBVA Compass Bowl, so the hope for Mason is that he can take that bounce in the fortunes of the Vanderbilt program and keep it going. With Tennessee still trying to reclaim its position in the SEC, the ground may be fertile for some sustained success in Vanderbilt.