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Oklahoma State Hires SEC Coach As New Defensive Coordinator

Derek Mason leaves Auburn for Stillwater and a chance to face the Longhorns in 2022

Oklahoma State now has found its new defensive coordinator for the 2022 season, and it's a name that could keep the Pokes in contention for the future. 

The Cowboys are hiring former Auburn defensive coordinator Derek Mason to the same role. Mason, 52, stepped down from his position as the Tigers' coordinator on Saturday. 

"After meaningful discussions with Coach Gundy these past few weeks about his vision for the program, it became apparent that leading the defense for the Cowboys was the right fit for me," Mason said in an Oklahoma State statement. "I look forward to working with the student-athletes, coaches, and staff as they continue to build a winning culture of success, inclusion, and integrity on and off the field."

Rumors had begun to flow over the past month that Mason was the top choice to replace Jim Knowles following the success in 2021. Knowles, a finalist for the Broyles Award for top assistant head coach, dramatically improved Oklahoma State's defense during his tenure. 

Last season, the Cowboys ranked fifth nationally in total defense and ninth in points allowed and reached the Big 12 championship game against Baylor. Oklahoma State tied the school record for most wins in a season, going 12-2 following a come-from-behind victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl earlier this month.

Knowles was named Ohio State's defensive coordinator and received a pay raise of $1.9 million a season. He'll replace Kerry Coombs, who was relieved of his play-calling duties two games into the season in favor of secondary coach Matt Barnes.

In his first season, Mason led the Tigers to mixed results. Auburn finished 27th nationally in points allowed, giving up less than 22 per game. The Tigers allowed 5.3 yards per play and stumbled down the stretch after a 6-2 start to finish 6-7 on the year. 

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Auburn coach Bryan Harsin released a statement last week following Mason's resignation. 

"First and foremost, I want to thank Coach Mason for his leadership as our defensive coordinator this past season and wish nothing but the best for him on his next steps," Harsin said. "The decision to leave Auburn was not an easy one for him, and he will always be a part of the Auburn family."

Prior to being named Auburn's defensive coordinator, Mason spent seven seasons as Vanderbilt's head coach. With the Commodores, Mason posted a 27-55 record from 2014-20. He was fired after going 0-8 to begin the 2020 season. 

The Cowboys will face Texas on Oct. 22 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.

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