HOOVER, Ala. — Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said beating Tennessee last season was a game-changer, and that was what led to his emotional outburst after the 45-34 win last November.
“The emotion that you saw from me was not a one-game emotion,” Mason said during the electronic media portion of SEC Media Days, as captured by Knoxville’s WATE-6 (below). “It’s a program emotion, it’s a three-year journey.
“It’s changed the landscape of what we’re doing and where we’re trying to go and what it looks like.”
Earlier Tuesday, the Commodores’ players staked claim to having made their rivalry with the Vols relevant again.
Mason doubled down on that on Tuesday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Riverchase Galleria, indicating that the Vanderbilt-Tennessee rivalry is inescapable in the state.
After Vanderbilt upsets Tennessee, Commodores coach Derek Mason yells, “THIS IS OUR STATE.” pic.twitter.com/q1hMvidvxS
— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) November 27, 2016
“That game is big in the state of Tennessee, it’s a rivalry, you hear about it 365 days a year, and I had to hear about it for that times two,” said Mason, who lost his first two meetings with the Vols after taking over for current Penn State coach James Franklin. “So to win that game in that time, in that moment versus that team, it was truly emotional.
“Now Vanderbilt has won three of the last five contests versus Tennessee, but [that was] the first time for me in my tenure that we had won, the first time that we had gained bowl eligibility in my tenure.”
The Commodores also beat Georgia and Ole Miss in SEC play last season before falling to North Carolina State in the Independence Bowl 41-17 to finish 6-7.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason spoke on his emotion following the win over Tennessee last season. #SECMD17 pic.twitter.com/3WBpAhTZgg
— Marshall Hughes (@marshallhughes) July 11, 2017