Middle Tennessee names Derek Mason as new head coach

Derek Mason has signed a five-year contract to become the new football coach at Middle Tennessee, the school announced Wednesday.

Mason replaces Rick Stockstill, who was fired last month following the team's third losing season in the past five years. Stockstill had led Middle Tennessee since December 2005 and was 113-111 in 18 seasons with the program, but finished just 4-8 this season.

Mason tipped his cap to Stockstill as he now takes over the Red Raiders football program.

""This is an emotional moment for me," said Mason in a statement. "This is the house that Rick Stockstill built and he left good bones and a strong foundation. He did a lot to raise and encourage these young men and help them take the journey. Now, that responsibility has been passed down to me. It's about winning and making sure we can do everything we can to resource our student athletes in a way to make them successful both on and off the field."

Mason has a long history of coaching in college and the NFL. In addition to being a former head coach at Vanderbilt, he has been the defensive coordinator at Stanford, Auburn and Oklahoma State. He spent the 2023 season as an analyst for the SEC Network.

Mason spent seven years at Vanderbilt, which is about 40 miles away from Middle Tennessee's campus in Murfreesboro. Mason went 27-55 in his seven years at Vanderbilt, including a pair of bowl games. After Mason's departure, Vanderbilt committed to building world-class facilities and investing in football at an SEC level.

"We are ecstatic to welcome Coach Derek Mason to Middle Tennessee and the Blue Raider football program," director of athletics Chris Massaro added in the school's statement. "With his experience as a head coach, his reputation for coaching fast, aggressive defenses, his strong reputation as a recruiter, and deep connections in college football to formulate an outstanding staff, Coach Mason's vision for MTSU football fits exactly what we were looking for during our interview process."

Mason, 54, developed a reputation as a top defensive mind as he worked his way up on Stanford's staffs from 2010 to 2013. In his two seasons as David Shaw's defensive coordinator, Stanford went 23-4 and played in the Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2012. He helped developed a bevy of NFL players, including star cornerback Richard Sherman, who went on to a long and decorated NFL career.

Coaches have viewed Middle Tennessee in recent years as a unpolished gem, as Nashville's metro area has expanded toward Murfreesboro. The school has competed in FBS football since 1999 and has 10 bowl appearances and two conference championships.

In a reconfigured Conference USA, Middle Tennessee is considered one of the better jobs. Liberty ran away with the conference in 2023, and Middle Tennessee finished just 3-5 in conference play this year.