Yesterday's 42-24 win over Tennessee improved Derek Mason's record to 2-2 against the team from the evil east. I bet there's a high probability that that record will improve to 3-2 next season, making Mason the only Vandy coach to win three straight over the Vols since the 1920s.
I am thankful to Derek Mason for these two victories over Tennessee. When James Franklin did that a few years ago most observers looked at that feat as just a lucky two-year swing that would never happen again. Mason has proved them wrong.
After the win on Saturday night, Vanderbilt players attempted to plant an "Anchor Down" flag into in the middle of Tennessee's football field in the mostly empty Neyland Stadium. A UT administrator scurried to stop them from doing this. These are good times to be a Vanderbilt fan.
Vandy gave up 376 points this season. Keep in mind, though, that over 100 of those came against Alabama and Georgia, two of the best teams in the league.
Yes, Mason's defense took a huge step back this season. Yes, we expected more from the 2017 Vanderbilt team. But everything isn't fluid in college football. Things change, just when you thought you were pretty good someone else has a new player or coach that can get it done a little better.
I think the defensive dip this season was primarily because Vandy lost two very good players last season in Zach Cunningham and Adam Butler. Those two were basically the middle of the defense. It's hard to replace players NFL caliber players either side of the ball.
Mason has a good shot at correcting deficiencies on defense because he is recruiting his tail off. Vandy already has lined up one of the best recruiting classes in school history. Saturday's win over UT can't hurt that effort, especially in the Vanderbilt State.
I'm not calling for a 10-year contract extension for Derek Mason but he deserves credit for what he has accomplished at Vanderbilt. He's recruited good players who are also fine citizens and representatives of Vanderbilt. No one needs to be reminded of the nightmare events of the summer of 2013. '
While we hear more and more about Butch Jones' dealings with his players, I'm pretty confident that Mason treats his players with respect and dignity. I haven't heard of one Vanderbilt player or parent publicly lashing out at Mason as we've seen happen with Jones.
Barring some unforeseen hiring away, Derek Mason is going to be Vandy's coach in 2018 and it's likely going to be a make or break season for him. You may or may not like either of those two facts. However, we can all at least give him the common courtesy of allowing him to complete that season without the verbal attacks and abuse. Allow Mason to do his job, success or failure, in peace.