Today is Monday, June 26, 2017

New coaches land in Nashville

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Joe Biddle

The Titans have a new coach in Ken Whisenhunt, making it official last week.

Vanderbilt followed suit Saturday by introducing Derek Mason to replace James Franklin.

Time will tell but from what I can tell, both programs feel great about their hires. I would agree with them.

I thought Whisenhunt was the best coach available and the Titans had to change the tide as Detroit was hot on the former Arizona Cardinals head coach’s trail. Thanks goodness GM Ruston Webster and Whisenhunt hit it off from the start.

On the other hand, I confess to being in the dark about Mason, Stanford’s defensive coordinator. I knew little about him, but he has worked for solid coaches and unlike Franklin, is a blue-collar man with high expectations.

As I write this, both men are still putting the finishing touches on their staffs. That will be a key element as they move forward.

The two men come from different backgrounds, yet they share some similarities.

Whisenhunt grew up in Augusta, Ga., where as a teenager he worked the Masters manual scoreboard near the 18th green at Augusta National. He later would have a par round on one of the most famous courses in the world.

He walked on at Georgia Tech where he would earn an engineering degree. Before he left Tech, Whisenhunt was a first-team All-ACC tight end.

He had an NFL career as a tight end and H-back with the Falcons, Redskins and Jets. His NFL playing career behind him, Whisenhunt came to Vanderbilt with former NFL coach Rod Dowhower. At Vanderbilt Whisenhunt coached special teams and tight ends.

As a special teams coach he called a fake punt against Alabama. Vanderbilt punter Bill Marinangel ran up the middle for a touchdown that covered 90 yards.

When Dowhower was fired after two seasons, Whisenhunt turned to the NFL. He spent 10 seasons as an assistant before being named head coach of the Cardinals. In six seasons there, his Arizona team won a Super Bowl. After he was fired, he joined the San Diego Chargers last season as their offensive coordinator.

Derek Mason was a two-year starter as an undersized cornerback at Northern Arizona. The Phoenix native then went into coaching. He worked at Utah, New Mexico State, Ohio University and other colleges.

From 2007-09 Mason worked as an assistant to Minnesota Vikings defensive back coach Joe Woods. He then joined the Stanford staff in 2010 under Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw before accepting the Vanderbilt job.

He is goal oriented and confident he can take Vanderbilt to the next level. That is not only competing in the SEC East, but bringing the Commodores their first division championship.

Lofty goals, but determination oozes from Mason’s every pore.

“I am committed and trained," he said in his first press conference. “We will win make no mistake about it. SEC East title here we come."

To reach that point, Mason must beat perennial East powers Georgia, Florida and South Carolina as well as the newest conference member, Missouri.

He will build on the team unity Franklin built as Franklin instilled confidence in a program that had floundered for years near the bottom of the SEC.

“Our pursuits are limitless," he said. “Our mission is global. We are primed for greatness."

At the very least, the Titans and Commodores will bear watching.

Contact Wilson Post Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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"My Bid" by Joe Biddle
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