With team 0-8, Vanderbilt fires head coach Derek Mason

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Derek Mason’s time at Vanderbilt has come to an end.

Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Storey Lee announced Sunday that the university has parted ways with Mason, who was in his seventh season as the head coach of the Commodores.

The 2020 season has been a struggle for Vanderbilt. The team dropped to 0-8 with a 41-0 loss to Missouri on Saturday. Mason ends his head-coaching run at Vandy with a 27-55 overall record, a 10-46 mark in SEC play and two bowl game appearances.

“On behalf of the entire Vanderbilt community, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Coach Mason for his many years of dedication and service leading our football program,” Lee said. “Derek cares deeply about the student-athletes under his charge. His tenure at Vanderbilt will be remembered for his steadfast commitment to our student-athletes, not only on the field, but in the classroom and as young people.

“While this was a difficult decision, but I know this change is necessary. We wish Derek and his entire family the best.”

Vanderbilt has games against Georgia and rival Tennessee remaining on its schedule. The school has never had a winless season in its history, dating to 1890.

Todd Fitch, the team’s offensive coordinator, will serve as interim coach “until a replacement for Mason is named,” the school said.

Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason gestures as he speaks into his headset.
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason gestures as he speaks into his headset during the second half of a college football game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi, on Nov. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Derek Mason arrived at Vandy in 2014

Mason, after several years as a defensive assistant at Stanford, became Vanderbilt’s head coach in 2014 after James Franklin left Nashville for the Penn State job. The Commodores had long been one of the SEC’s worst programs, but Franklin engineered three straight bowl seasons, including back-to-back nine-win efforts in 2012 and 2013.

Mason was unable to build off that success. The Commodores reached two bowl games during his tenure, but never had a single winning season. They went 3-9 and 4-8 in Mason’s first two years and got to six wins in 2016 and 2018, but lost the Independence Bowl and Texas Bowl in those two seasons to finish 6-7.

The last two seasons have been a step back. Vandy went 3-9 last year, but then-AD Malcolm Turner decided to bring Mason back for 2020. Things did not get better as the Commodores are now the lone winless team in the SEC.

In a statement, Mason said he is confident in the direction of the Vanderbilt athletic department with Lee in place as athletic director.

Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel tweeted out a list of potential candidates for the job.

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