College Football

Vanderbilt fires coach Derek Mason in his 7th season

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2020, file photo, Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason looks on from the sideline during an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt women's soccer goalkeeper Sarah Fuller has practiced with the football team, and coach Derek Mason says she's an option at kicker Saturday against Missouri. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt fired coach Derek Mason on Sunday after losing the first eight games of his seventh season, and offensive coordinator Todd Fitch will serve as the interim coach.

“While this was a difficult decision, but I know this change is necessary,” athletic director Candice Lee said in a statement. “We wish Derek and his entire family the best.”

Mason was hired in 2014 as Vanderbilt’s 28th coach, replacing James Franklin when he left for Penn State. Mason came to Vanderbilt after being associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Stanford. He became the first Vanderbilt coach since the 1920s to beat in-state rival Tennessee three straight seasons.

But with the Southeastern Conference playing only league games this season, Vanderbilt is 0-8 and on the verge of the first winless season in school history after a 41-0 loss to Missouri.

The most notable thing to happen this season for Vanderbilt came Saturday, when soccer goalkeeper Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power Five conference football game.

Mason leaves as the sixth-winningest coach in program history at 27-55.

Vanderbilt said the search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

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