While the school has not yet officially announced it, Vanderbilt has its new head football coach in place.
John Ingram, a Vandy booster and search committee member, confirmed to Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean that Derek Mason has been hired as James Franklin‘s replacement with the Commodores. Said Ingram of the hiring of Stanford’s defensive coordinator, “Yes sir! … I am very excited.”
Ingram’s confirmation comes a few hours after reports first surfaced that Vandy was set to hire the long-time assistant.
A formal announcement is expected later today, with an introductory press conference likely to be held Saturday morning.
Prior to Mason’s second “interview” with Vandy officials — via Skype, incidentally — the coach told the paper that he was one of two finalists for the job. Who the other finalist was wasn’t divulged.
With Franklin ransacking Vandy’s 2014 recruiting class, Mason said, if he were hired, Job One would be to hit the recruiting trail immediately to shore up a wobbly and shaky class.
“It’s got to be almost immediate,” Mason told Lockridge prior to being offered and accepting the job. “It’s got to be something that is there is no break, there is no time period. You’re going to have to go 24 hours a day for the next two weeks to make sure you can get in homes and really solidify people’s trust and respect just in terms of sending their child to your program.”
This will be the first head-coaching job of Mason’s 20-year career. He’s spent the past four seasons at Stanford, three of them as the Cardinal’s coordinator.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah