It was Derek Mason's first SEC Media Days as the new Vanderbilt head football coach and he wanted to…
Mason: Vanderbilt a National Brand
"There are six guys in the quarterback competition right now. We're going to continue o evaluate and go through the process of selecting the starting quarterback by game number one. We want to make the right decision. I'm not a two quarterback guy. There's an ebb and flow to the game and I don't want to take my guy out of his rhythm. As you know, football is not a mistake free game. The guy behind him will have to accept the role and be ready to play if he's called upon."
Vanderbilt has incoming freshman quarterback Shaw Stankavage and Wade Freebeck. Their more experienced quarterbacks are Patton Robinette, Johnny McCrary, Josh Grady, and LSU transfer Stephen Rivers.
When asked if he thought it was important for Vanderbilt to recruit nationwide, Coach Mason responded with a resounding 'yes'.
"Vanderbilt is a national brand. There's great talent in the Southeast and the Midwest but we can go further. Our brand of academics and competing in the top football conference has national appeal. I thought like we brought in a pretty good class our first time around. I say 'pretty good' because they will ultimately be measure by how they do on the field. If they are two-star or three-star players, it's not that important to me. What is is finding the right student-athletes who'll be the fit for our system and schemes. We're looking to identify the right guys for us. What they're ranked doesn't matter. Richard Sherman was a great player for us and I think he was only a two-star player out of high school."
Coach James Franklin took the Commodores to three bowl games and 24 wins in his three years as the Vanderbilt head coach. Derek Mason was asked if Franklin's success made the Vanderbilt job easier to accept.
"Every job is tough to follow," he explained. "I take an NFL mentality that you have to perform your best each year. James did an excellent job, but even if he went 0-11, I would have still taken the job because I saw at Stanford it can be done. You can get a program turned around, but the legwork Coach Franklin and Coach Bobby Caldwell has helped put us on even footing with the other SEC schools."
Franklin put together back-to-back nine win seasons at Vanderbilt, but Coach Mason said he wants to take i to the next level.
"I've always thought when you dream small you end up falling short," he said. "I know that the rivalry game with Tennessee is huge. It's out hope to continue the winning streak in the rivalry. It's a great rivalry and I have a lot of respect for Butch (Jones) and his players. That's going to be a tough one, but I have 11 games to coach before that one."
One game that will precede the Tennessee game is Ole Miss which will be played at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans.
"It's going to be a great venue and I think the city of Nashville will come out in droves to support us," Mason said of the Ole Miss game to be played on September 6th. Ole Miss, there's no doubt, will be represented as well. There have been great games between us and Ole Miss in the last three or four years and that was the idea behind it."
Many thought James Franklin to be an ace recruiter and a big reason for his success in Nashville. Mason contends that hasn't changed a bit since he's taken over the program.
"Recruiting is at strong as it has ever been," he said. "We recruiting outstanding you men and I ask them why they would want to shortchange themselves. The idea of playing in the best conference and receiving a top education speaks for itself. I don't have to sell the program. I simply tell our recruits what the university will be able to offer them."
Mason then talked about stopping high-powered Pac-12 offenses and how that will translate to stopping the offenses of the SEC.
"I saw the advent of the spread and what Chip [Kelly] did after everyone was running West Coast offenses for so long," explained Mason. "Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State, after awhile all we saw were spread offenses. We had to find ways to slow it down to come up with a competitive edge. Auburn doesn't really do much differently than Alabama, they just do it in different ways. Coach Spurrier and Coach Miles, they both know that controlling the clock and keeping your turnovers down is what the game comes down to. I'm going to stay in my lane and work with my coaches to come up with great game plans week-after-week."
Mason closed by saying that there will always be pressure in the SEC but there's a way he'll stay away from succumbing to it.
"I'm a blue collar guy who was taught by other blue collar guys," he stated. "I don't think I'm better than the game. I'm out to carve my own niche. I'm not going to make in bold, brash statements. I believe in my team, my coaching staff, and our ability to go out and do what we need to do. This is a great opportunity we have here, let's go out and make the most of it."
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