Not that Notre Dame needed any bulletin board material in order to make short order of perennial SEC cellar dweller and doormat Vanderbilt, but they got it on Thursday. Vandy head coach Derek Mason of all people provided the Irish with just a little bit extra motivation at SEC Media Day by stating he isn’t worried about his team’s trip to South Bend.
Here’s the video clip.
“Yeah we play in the SEC, I don’t worry about going to South Bend”
DEREK MASON FROM THE CLOUDS pic.twitter.com/iyhyk1BT7s
— Jack McGuire (@JackMacCFB) July 19, 2018
For a guy who has coached at Stanford and Vanderbilt, you’d think he would be just a tad bit smarter. The Commodores were 5-7 with a paltry 1-7 record in the SEC a year ago under Mason’s guidance. That lone victory came in the season finale to a hapless Tennessee team that had already fired their head coach.
Vanderbilt comes to South Bend on September 15th in week three of the regular season. It will be their first trip to Notre Dame Stadium since 1996 when the Irish blanked the Commodores 41-0 in Lou Holtz’s final season at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame doesn’t need any bulletin board material for a team like Vandy. The Irish should win this game easily and it would be a major disappointment if the Notre Dame backups weren’t in the game in the fourth quarter to close this one out. At the same time, it is a interesting tactic for a coach to make such a bold statement when he has not done anything as a head coach to back up the bravado. And this is coming from someone who covered the entire Charlie Weis era at Notre Dame.
Derek Mason will be entering his 5th season as the head coach at Vanderbilt in 2018 after compiling a record of 18-31 over the last four seasons. He has guided Vandy to just a single bowl game – that the Commodores lost – and he has yet to record a single season in which his team has won more games than they lost.
Maybe Mason is trying to instill some sort of confidence in his team by puffing out his chest and dismissing a trip to Notre Dame Stadium for his team. Then again, maybe Mason was just trying to convey that his team was so bad last year that they have so much else to worry about. Vandy did lose to Alabama 59-0 and 45-14 to Georgia – both at home.
This game looked like it would not have much to offer other than the angle of two schools with high academic standards squaring off against each other so now we at least have this storyline to rehash in the week leading up to the game. If Notre Dame enters that week 2-0, it will at least be something to talk about. If the Irish enter that week 1-1, Notre Dame will have much bigger problems to worry about than Mason spouting off and puffing out his chest with some manufactured bravado.