NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Mason knows exactly where he will be when it's time for his Vanderbilt Commodores to run onto the field Thursday night.
Bringing up the rear, letting his captains lead their teammates through the tunnel.
"That's their football team," Mason said Tuesday. "We are Vanderbilt. Our captains will come out, they'll lead that team out the tunnel. I'll be in the backdrop. Let's go play football."
Mason will be making his head coaching debut when Vanderbilt hosts Temple after being hired in January to take over a program that has finished in the Top 25 each of the previous two seasons with consecutive 9-4 records. The former Stanford defensive coordinator said Tuesday he plans a quick glance around the stadium once inside before turning his attention to work.
"I'll soak it in," Mason said of the atmosphere for his debut. "I don't think I'll be like (LSU coach) Les Miles and pick up a blade of grass and start chewing it. I think I'll take a moment just to gaze around and see where I'm at, then the focus comes right back."
Mason said he has been going to bed nightly reviewing scenarios like clock management and has looked closely at his 2-point chart. He says there's no scenario he hasn't covered, drawing on his background as a former assistant coach. Mason has coached in the NFL with Minnesota with stints in the league's minority coaching fellowship program with the Rams, Giants and Raiders.
He worked his way up from coaching wide receivers at Mesa Community College in California in 1994 in a career that has included stops at Weber State, Idaho State, Bucknell, Utah, Saint Mary's, New Mexico State and Ohio University. He worked his way from coaching defensive backs at Stanford in 2010 to defensive coordinator and associate head coach.
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