It should come as no surprise that Vanderbilt head football coach Derek Mason's name is on most very preseason list of coaches who could be looking for new employment soon. After all, fans were up in arms when it was announced following the 2019 season that he would be retained.
Mason's record to this point has been enough to get other coaches fired, yet somehow Mason-who I like personally- has managed to hold on despite a public outcry for his termination.
Entering 2020 Mason's record reads 27–47 overall through six seasons, including a 10–38 mark in the SEC. That record-20 games under .500- would have been enough for other institutions to have shown coaches the door.
On Monday, Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde shared an article listing the current coaches sitting on college football proverbial hot seat, and to the surprise of no one, Mason made the list. I should also come as no shocking revelation that he was near the top of said list, coming in at number three behind Clay Helton-whose continued employment at USC is even more remarkable than Mason- and Will Muschamp of South Carolina.
What did Forde have to say of Mason?
"Helton Scale: 1. James Franklin showed what is possible (albeit unlikely) at Vanderbilt, and Mason hasn’t come close to approximating that. He hasn’t recorded a winning record yet at the school, and last year was his worse season: 3–9, with a 24-point loss to a UNLV team that would fire its coach. It’s unclear what the buyout would be, since Vandy is a private school and doesn’t have to release all financial information. Mason has a new boss, first-year athletic director Candice Storey Lee, who is an alum and had been on staff since 2004. How aggressive will her management style be?"
Mason's current contract is a reported $3.4 million, and as Forde wrote, the cost of a buyout is unknown. Also as the article states, it is unknown how agressive Commodore athletic director Candice Lee might be when it comes to firing and hiring new coaches.
All this leaves Mason on the hotseat in the eyes of media and fans, but no one outside the athletic facilities at McGugin Center knows where he stands with those who will make such decisions.
Things within the athletic department at Vanderbilt could best be described as murky when it comes to the information available, or how plans for the future are moving forward. Getting any kind of fix on the status of the head football coach should be no different.