Former Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason is reportedly heading to Auburn to be the defensive coordinator under Bryan Harsin. The news was put out this morning by AL.com after rumors circulated on social media on Wednesday.
Mason was considered a candidate for Michigan’s vacant defensive coordinator job. The program has yet to confirm or officially announced that Don Brown — who has joined Jedd Fisch’s staff at Arizona — is no longer with the team and his name still appears on the staff page of the official website.
Mason had other opportunities to pursue with the whispers that Michigan and South Carolina among them. He has ties to Jim Harbaugh and was a member of his staff at Stanford and was David Shaw’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013. His defenses ranked in the top-two of the Pac-12 in each of those years before being hired as Vanderbilt’s head coach in 2014. He was fired in November after a 27-55 record in seven years on the job.
The Wolverines have reportedly been looking for defensive coordinators that have head coaching experience and Mason’s name has been at the top of many prospective lists. It would have been a natural fit, but it is unclear at this time the role that the uncertainty surrounding Harbaugh and Michigan played in the inability to hire him.
It is too early to say that Michigan’s lack of a Harbaugh announcement is affecting the coordinator search. It did not affect the recruiting class outside of the defensive players that decided to drop out, which seemed to signal the writing was on the wall for Brown and the defensive staff.
The optics of the Harbaugh situation, whether intended or not, have created a massive vibe of uncertainty around the program and they have nobody to blame but themselves for that. Six assistant coaches will see their contracts expire on Monday and there does not seem to be a rush to get a deal done.
So we wait. Outside of throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks, it’s all we are left to do until there is a reputable announcement of what the future is.