Oklahoma State hires Derek Mason: Pokes make splash move at defensive coordinator to replace Jim Knowles

Oklahoma State has hired former Auburn defensive coordinator Derek Mason to the same position, the school announced on Wednesday. Mason previously served as head coach at Vanderbilt and is considered one of the top defensive minds in the nation. He stepped down as Tigers defensive coordinator on Saturday after just one season. 

“After meaningful discussions with Coach Gundy these past few weeks about his vision for the program, it became apparent that leading the defense for the Cowboys was the right fit for me,” Mason said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the student-athletes, coaches and staff as they continue to build a winning culture of success, inclusion and integrity on and off the field.”

Auburn posted a disappointing 6-7 record in coach Bryan Harsin’s first season, but Mason’s defense was not to blame. It lost four games where the defense held opponents to 21 points or fewer in regulation, including a 24-22 quadruple-overtime loss to rival Alabama. The Tigers ranked No. 27 nationally in scoring defense, holding opponents to 21.8 points per game. 

Mason now takes over an Oklahoma State defense that ranked top-five in defensive SP+ and held opponents to just 18.1 points per game. The Cowboys were one play away from winning the Big 12 championship, and finished 12-2 with a victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Mason replaces Jim Knowles, who left to become one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the nation at Ohio State. 

Prior to his eight-year stint in the SEC, Mason spent four years at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw, including three seasons as associate head coach. He also coached defensive backs for the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL. 

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