Derek Mason is a nice guy and I really wish he could win some football games as Vanderbilt’s head coach because he’s a very likable dude. But last year was a total and complete disaster for Vanderbilt football. His team, coming off back-to-back nine win seasons, lost by thirty points to Temple in their season opener. They barely hung on to beat Charleston Southern by one point. They lost every SEC game by double digits, except for the Tennessee game, which they lost by a touchdown. So far going from James Franklin to Derek Mason in coaching has been like going from Tom Brady to Clay Travis at quarterback.
But after a season in the football wilderness now Vandy fans can rest easy. Because Derek Mason has found the piece of paper that he lost last season.
“I had a sheet that I had been looking for for the last 18 months,” Mason said. “Lo and behold, about two weeks ago, it popped up. I found it in my library of football books.”
What he found was a detailed list of game situations and what he should do in each of them. According to his timeline, he had it when he accepted the job at Vanderbilt last January (or shortly thereafter). He was without it, though, when the Commodores went 3-9 and failed to win an SEC game for the first time in five years.
“I had already gone through that list and really remembered a couple of items on there that needed to be checked off,” Mason said. “Now, I feel really good about what we’re doing and where we’re at.”
Included on this list, evidently, must have been really sage advice, such as, “Score touchdowns on offense.” And, “Don’t play four quarterbacks.”
I know there’s a cottage industry of people who want to make football really complicated, but here’s the deal: FOOTBALL ISN’T THAT COMPLICATED.
I don’t even know X’s and O’s and I could make every important strategic decision that a head coach has to make during a game. When to call a timeout, how to manage a two minute offense, whether to go for it on fourth down or not. Is now the time for an onside kick or a two point attempt? Hell, just about any 13 year old who plays Madden on a regular basis could do all this without a sheet of paper too.
I mean, football is more complex than, say, being a janitor or playing paper football on a table in fourth grade, but it’s infinitely less complicated than just about every job that Vanderbilt graduates will end up undertaking once they graduate. I mean, put it this way, which do you think you could pick up faster, football strategy or brain surgery? What about football coaching or derivative options trading in oil futures? Hell, what about football or the most complicated science courses Vandy seniors take every year? Would you rather risk your life having to pass an astrophysics final at Vanderbilt or take a quiz on football strategy?
If the Onion were writing an article about a bad football coach it would include this detail — that he’s found a sheet of paper that will solve all the issues he faced last season.
Look, I’m going to the Vandy game tomorrow. I’ve bet Derek Mason’s defense can keep the score of this ballgame somewhere beneath 65 points, and even I can’t believe this quote is real. Now I’m terrified that Mason might lose this sheet of paper again and Western Kentucky will hang 70 on the Commodores.
Look out SEC fans, this year’s a new beginning. To hell with 50 cent’s Magic Stick, Derek Mason’s got the magic sheet.