Derek Mason leaves Auburn: What’s next for Tigers as defensive coordinator leaves after one season

Auburn defensive coordinator Derek Mason has resigned from his position with the Tigers, the school announced Saturday. Mason, 52, spent a year on Bryan Harsin’s staff after serving as head coach at Vanderbilt from 2014 to 2020. In his place, assistant head coach and linebackers coach Jeff Schmedding was promoted as defensive coordinator.

“First and foremost, I want to thank Coach Mason for his leadership as our defensive coordinator last season and wishes nothing but the best for him on his next steps,” Harsin said in a statement. . “The decision to leave Auburn was not easy for him, and he will always be a part of the Auburn family.

“Coach Schmedding was on Coach Mason’s side day after day getting our defense prepped and ready. He’s a tremendous defensive trainer, who has coordinated championship defenses and is a proven winner. I know our defense will take the next steps forward under Coach Schmedding.”

Auburn’s defense was wildly inconsistent in 2021, with performances ranging from seven sacks in the four-overtime loss to Alabama in the regular-season finale to giving up 487 yards and taking a 28-3 lead against Mississippi State on November 13. finished ninth in the SEC in total defense at 372.7 yards per game, fifth in defense with 21.8 points per game, and fourth in yards per play allowed at 5.27.

Let’s quickly break down the impact of Mason’s decision on the Tiger’s ending.

What this means for Auburn

There’s just no other way to cut it: it’s a blow. Harsin brought in Mason and former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo last year in part because of their extensive SEC experience. It was the right choice for an outsider who, aside from a time as an assistant in Texas and a year as head coach at Arkansas State, was basically a coast coach. Where is.

It’s one thing to replace Bobo; the offense was a disaster last season and the defense took on too much of the burden. In reality, it’s a small miracle that Mason’s defense was competent given what he was asked to do.

Now, Harsin has ex-Seattle Seahawks coach quarterback Austin Davis run the offense and Schmedding assume the role of defensive coordinator. Nor any SEC coaching experience before last year’s Schmedding time with the Tigers.

Harsin takes full ownership of the program and does it in his own way. It’s a dangerous prospect in a place like Auburn that has a history of staying in the SEC footprint and recruiting at a high level. Additionally, its two biggest rivals — Alabama and Georgia — separated themselves from the rest of the conference as two of the top programs in the nation.

If this personnel reshuffle doesn’t work out, Harsin’s stay in the Plains might not last too long.

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