Auburn defensive coordinator Derek Mason has stepped down from his position with the Tigers, the school announced on Saturday. Mason, 52, spent one year as a member of Bryan Harsin’s staff after serving as the head coach at Vanderbilt from 2014-20. In his place, assistant head coach and linebackers coach Jeff Schmedding has been elevated to defensive coordinator. 

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

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

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 blowing a 28-3 lead against Mississippi State on Nov. 13. The Tigers finished ninth in the SEC in total defense at 372.7 yards per game, fifth in scoring defense at 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 end.

What this means for Auburn

There’s simply no other way to slice it: this is a big blow. Harsin brought in Mason and former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo last year in part because of their extensive experience in the SEC. That was the right call for an outsider who, aside from some time as an assistant…

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