Auburn coach Bryan Harsin is an outsider in the SEC footprint, but he is looking for some help from assistants well-versed in the area. The school announced on Thursday that former Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason will coordinate the defense and former South Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will serve in the same role on The Plains.
Mason was 27-55 during his tenure in Nashville, including a winless season in 2020 and a 3-9 record in 2019. Despite being a head coach, he took a hands-on approach as Vanderbilt's defensive coordinator. He took over the play-calling duty in 2015 and allowed just 350.5 yards per game, 21 points per game and 5.2 yards per play. That, despite having an uphill battle due to the talent gap that exists at Vanderbilt.
He got the job at Vanderbilt after a wildly successful stint as the defensive coordinator at Stanford. The Cardinal finished with the Pac-12's top defense in 2012 and second in 2011 and 2013.
"Auburn University is a special place with special people, and I've witnessed this in my time in the SEC," Mason said. "I admire the school, the facilities, the traditions and the uniqueness of the community. Auburn has everything! Auburn embraces all that I believe in and I'm very appreciative of Coach Harsin, Director of Athletics Allen Greene, and the University Administration for this opportunity. I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Harsin and I'm excited to hit the ground running."
Bobo, a former Georgia quarterback and offensive coordinator, was most recently South Carolina's offensive coordinator under Will Muschamp and was retained this offseason by new coach Shane Beamer. He previously served as Colorado State's coach from 2015-19 where he went 28-35, 20-20 in the Mountain West as well as 0-3 in bowl games.
"I've wanted to work with Mike now for quite some time as he compliments the many things we want to do with our offense," Harsin said. "We are going to be very versatile in what we do and Mike's offensive background speaks for itself. I'm really excited to combine forces with Mike as we create the Auburn offense, a high-powered, attacking and physical unit that will come at you in many ways."
Prior to his time with the Rams, he served on Mark Richt's staff at Georgia, first as quarterback coach from 2001-06 and then as offensive coordinator from 2007-14. He worked with several successful quarterbacks during his time in Athens, Georgia, including David Greene, D.J. Shockley, Matt Stafford and Aaron Murray. That's vitally important at Auburn, which struggled to develop quarterbacks under former coach Gus Malzahn.
The school also announced that South Carolina offensive line coach Will Friend will take over the same role at Auburn. He spent 11 days on the Gamecocks' staff after getting hired away from Tennessee on Dec. 27, 2020.