HOOVER, Ala. | The departure of coach James Franklin to Penn State isn‚Äôt lowering the bar for the momentum built in the last few seasons.
‚ÄúI think our time to compete for the SEC East title is now,‚Äù said Derek Mason, the only new head coach in the league this year.
Vanderbilt defensive lineman Adam Butler said Franklin ‚Äúrepeatedly‚Äù told the team he wasn‚Äôt leaving ‚Äúand then all of a sudden he up and left.‚Äù
Enter Mason, the former defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt, who plans to bring a ‚Äúphysical style of football,‚Äù which he said has been played in the SEC for a long time.
The Commodores, long a doormat in SEC football, have been to three straight bowl games and are coming off a 9-4 season.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs different,‚Äù Mason said. ‚ÄúJames established this program. I would have taken this job if it had come off a 0-11 stint, 0-11 or 0-12 it doesn‚Äôt matter.‚Äù