Greeson: Derek Mason leading Vandy charge with connection [video]

Greeson: Derek Mason leading Vandy charge with connection [video]

July 12th, 2017 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Vanderbilt NCAA college football coach Derek Mason speaks during the Southeastern Conference's annual media gathering, Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

HOOVER, Ala. — In the course of a year, Derek Mason went from hot seat to hot shot.

That's what happens for Vanderbilt football coaches who go to bowl games.

That's what happens for Vanderbilt coaches whose teams put 45 points on Tennessee.

In fact, that's what happens for all football coaches who exceed expectations and ignite their fan bases.

In truth, Tennessee's Butch Jones could learn a thing or three from Mason, the energetic coach entering his fourth year on the West End with a charming smile and charismatic style.

"There are only two kinds of people in this world," Mason told the media throng Tuesday at the Southeastern Conference preseason gathering. "The limited and the limitless. You just have to figure out who you are."

Football coaches have a special language. Call it coach-speak. Call it cliche-diction. Call it an innate trait of talking and talking without saying anything.

And that's not changing. The days of Steve Spurrier and the leaguewide zinger are gone, the rhetoric replaced by robotic responses.

With Mason, though, the energy becomes contagious. He delivers catch-phrases and mottoes like every football.

"Make days count, don't count the days," he told the group.

"Relentless, tough and intelligent. We want to be that all the time."

Vanderbilt NCAA college football player Kyle Shurmur speaks during the Southeastern Conference's annual media gathering, Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Vanderbilt NCAA college football player Kyle Shurmur speaks...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

"Here's what I know: Football is still a game played between the white lines."

That could come from any head ball coach from just about any level.

Heck, Jones could have fashioned any of those just as easily as he coined "brick-by-brick" or "five-star hearts."

The lesson here is not the words but the delivery.

Mason said on "Press Row" on Chattanooga's ESPN 105.1 the Zone that he's never called a bad defense, it's about the execution. He was kidding, of course, but it begs the question of not what is said but rather how. And how emphatically, emotionally and directly.

With Mason it feels less like coach-speak and more like motivation.

Jones has the connection of a fortune cookie. Mason has the connection of a rousing Sunday sermon.

Does either status equal points on Saturdays? Not directly, but we know that Vandy had less talent and more points last November.

Was that an coincidence? Maybe.

But what never will be forgotten was in the bowels of the stadium after Vandy waxed Tennessee, Jones was talking about champions of life and was in and out before the majority of the media folks got in and missed out.

Mason has not won as much as Butch, but the Vandy coach connects, his message felt by the listener as much as it's believed by the speaker.

And that's the thing. Perception of power is every bit as important as the power of perception.

Butch has a perception problem, every bit as real and dangerous as Alabama's defense or Georgia's 12 million returning starters.

Mason, however, has turned the tide of the hot-seat talk into whispers of whether some higher-profile gig may come calling.

Yes, Vandy's 45-34 win last year played a big part — especially to the Anchor Down folks — in the momentum turnaround. Mason carries the confidence that comes with that success. Vandy fans should, too.

Yes, the uphill battle that is the SEC always will be a fight for the Commodores, but with Mason leading the charge, that challenge seems more doable.

Mason boasts that all of Vandy's players are his guys now. The experience and maturity of his team give bounce to his bullet points.

That connection is not a coincidence. Nor is the fact that one in-state fan base is happy to have their coach and the Big Orange folks are wondering if their guy is the guy long-term.

Contact Jay Greeson at or 423-757-6343.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315