Barring an unforeseen turn of events, Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason will become Vanderbilt's head coach on Friday, according to to multiple sources.
This is obviously a significant blow to David Shaw's program: Mason has overseen two of the best defensive years in program history. Perhaps more importantly, he has successfully stymied Oregon's high-powered attack. Stanford held the Ducks over 30 points under their offensive average in each of Mason's seasons as defensive coordinator.
Mason's candor and creativity during interview sessions made him popular with media covering Stanford and also helped him become one of the Cardinal's most successful recruiters.
"Sharks take their prey to deep water," Mason told The Bootleg before Stanford dispatched of Oregon.
The Bootleg spoke with several 2014 Stanford verbal commitments on Thursday morning. All seemed firm in their pledges to The Farm, though they did express disappointment in Mason's departure.
"You hate to lose a great coach like Coach Mason," outside linebacker prospect Lane Veach said. "I'd love to play for him but at the same time I understand that college football is a business and he has to do what's best for him and his family."
For Stanford, it's a particularly challenging time to lose Mason: He specialized in working with the team's defensive backs, and the secondary is currently in a state of flux after a series of departures at the free safety position. Ed Reynolds declared for the NFL Draft, Devon Carrington exhausted his eligibility, and heir apparent Drew Madhu medically retired last offseason. The Bootleg's full 2014 defensive prospectus for the Cardinal is here.
Before the Rose Bowl, Mason said that he did indeed see himself leaving Stanford, but only for the right opportunity -- so this news does not come as a huge surprise. CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman, though, did report an interesting twist to this story: On Friday morning, he tweeted that Vanderbilt initially offered this head coaching job to former Cardinal offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. The spotlight apparently turned to Mason after Hamilton decided to remain in his current position leading Andrew Luck and the rest of the Indianapolis Colts offense.
There is now a chance that Mason may take some of his Stanford coaching colleagues with him to Vanderbilt. The Bootleg will continue reporting on this developing situation.
Dang all of our coaches are leaving haha but congrats coach mase that's big time!— %%MATCH_1%% (@GoldenMongoose2) January 17, 2014
When considering Mason's replacement, two names immediately come to mind. Shaw has frequently promoted from within, so outside linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Lance Anderson seems like a strong candidate to take the next step to defensive coordinator. Former USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who was not retained as part of Steve Sarkisian's new staff, remains out of work. Shaw has spoken highly of Pendergast, and his experience coordinating the 3-4 scheme may make him an appealing choice for Stanford.
congrats to Coach Mason on landing the Vandy job.. much deserved #bestofluck— %%MATCH_11%% (@CTcard44) January 17, 2014
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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