As Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason moves into his fourth season, he and the team seem to be more confident.
In his third season, he got Vanderbilt to a bowl game for the first time since 2013. Then in May, he received a contract extension.
At SEC Media Days, the Commodores came in with bravado. Mason said he didn’t fear Alabama or Nick Saban, and Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks pointed out the Commodores have won three of the last five games against in-state rival Tennessee.
The Commodores got off to a hot start on the recruiting trail but have faded in the past month. Their 2018 recruiting class has dropped from fifth to 11th as teams such as Georgia and Auburn have jumped them in the 247Sports composite rankings. Vanderbilt’s highest-rated recruits are 4-star LB Alston Orji and 4-star WR Camron Johnson.
That’s significant improvement from the past four recruiting cycles when Vanderbilt finished with the worst class in the SEC. And given the mess at Ole Miss, that doesn’t look like it will be the case this season.
In the SEC Country approval rating poll from July, Mason stayed above an 80 rating yet again, coming in with an 84.2.That mark placed him sixth in the SEC and third in the SEC East.
In his three seasons at Vanderbilt, Mason is 13-24 overall and 5-19 in SEC games. Former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, meanwhile, led Penn State to a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl appearance last season.
Mason reportedly will be paid approximately $2.5 million this season. The Commodores open the 2017 season at Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 2. The Commodores have beaten the Blue Raiders in each of the past two seasons, including a 47-24 victory from 2016.
Vote on Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason’s approval rating
The SEC Country approval rating poll is designed to give an indication of fan happiness over a period of time.
Our formula is based on the percentage of respondents who select each answer. We multiply that percentage by the following factors: 1 (strongly approve), 0.67 (approve), 0.33 (disapprove) and 0.0 (strongly disapprove). In other words, if 50 percent of respondents select “strongly approve” and 50 percent select “approve,” the formula would be (50 x 1) + (50 x 0.67) = 83.5% approval rating.