He was arguably the hottest defensive coordinator candidate on the market and received interest from quite a few schools. But after seven seasons leading the Commodores and four before that on Stanford's staff, he said, "I felt like, for me, I needed a break from the college game for just a little bit.
Derek mason’s wife leighanne mason
Then Bryan Harsin called. Mason never had worked on the same staff as the new Auburn coach, who was hired to replace Gus Malzahn in December, but the two knew each other well. They had run into each other a few times at Nike events and coaching conventions over the years, and their families hit it off. Mason's wife, LeighAnne, and Harsin's wife, Kes, have become friends.
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Their children are similar ages. They've vacationed together.
It was very strategic. It had all the making of what I thought a good leader should talk about coming into a situation like this.
A visit with a friend at auburn changed derek mason's nfl plans
Which I thought was unique. Harsin convinced Mason to make a stop in Auburn on his way home from Nashville.
They spent hours talking about football, how Harsin wanted to run his program and what he would expect from Mason as defensive coordinator. So it was an easy decision.
I feel good about where we are right now. It's too early, Harsin said, to know how that friendship off the field will transition into a working partnership on the same staff. But, so far, the reviews on all sides have been positive.
Harsin raved about how Mason has worked with the defensive staff, which features two other former defensive coordinators in inside linebackers coach Jeff Schmedding Boise State and outside linebackers coach Bert Watts Fresno State. Players have expressed excitement, too.
Junior linebacker Owen Pappoe said players "love the system he's bringing in for us" — which is expected to be very multiple in the alignments it uses — and "love him as a person," too. It feels like we're a real big family out there," Pappoe said. The change seems to have been good for Mason, too. Even if it wasn't the one he expected to make four months ago.
I'm a soldier. I can lead, man, but I can also follow," he said. Josh Vitale is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. You can follow him on Twitter at JoshVitale. To reach him by.
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Facebook Twitter. Josh Vitale Montgomery Advertiser. Show Caption. Hide Caption. Defensive coordinator Derek Mason: "Auburn is the place for me". Former Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason explains how he became Auburn football's defensive coordinator.