HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on Southeastern Conference media days (all times local):
Derek Mason is striking an optimistic note about his sixth season at Vanderbilt, like most coaches this time of year.
Flush with an offseason contract extension, he’s still seeking his first winning record with the Commodores despite flirting with one a couple of times. Mason said Thursday this is his deepest team at Vandy.
Mason promises that “this is a different-looking Vanderbilt football team.” He says the team has more depth, maturity, athleticism and leadership.
Mason has led Vanderbilt to a pair of 6-7 records and two bowl bids over the past three seasons, along with three consecutive wins over in-state rival Tennessee.
He also feels good about his quarterback position. Graduate transfer Riley Neal, who started 32 games at Ball State, and Deuce Wallace are vying for the starting job. Mason also announced the addition of four more grad transfers in June.
The Commodores open the season against defending SEC East champion Georgia.
The Southeastern Conference is experiencing a rare moment of football stability: There are no new head coaches in the league for the first time since 2006.
The respite might not last long.
Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason are among those under a significant amount of pressure to show improvement after lackluster seasons last fall. Malzahn, Mason and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops will all take the podium during the final day of SEC media days on Thursday.
Malzahn’s in his seventh year at Auburn and comes back after an 8-5 season that included a 3-5 mark in the SEC. The Tigers will have a new quarterback after the departure of Jarrett Stidham.
Mason’s in his sixth year with the Commodores and hasn’t had a winning season, though he’s finished 6-7 twice, including last year.