Where Should Vanderbilt Turn For Its Next Head Coach?

1/12/14 in NCAAF   |   BlakeLovell   |   86 respect

Dec 27, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal defensive coordinator Derek Mason at press conference for the 2013 Rose Bowl at the L.A. Hotel Downtown. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY SportsWith former coach James Franklin now officially the new head man at Penn State, the Vanderbilt Commodores must begin searching for a new leader.

This will be an extremely important hire for the university since it will look to continue the momentum that Franklin built during his time at the school, which culminated this season with a third straight bowl appearance for the first time in the program's history.

Who would make the most sense for the Commodores? Let's take a look at a five potential candidates that may fit what Vandy is looking for in a new coach:

Mark Hudspeth (HC at Louisiana-Lafayette)

Hudspeth is sure to get a serious look by Vandy due to his history as a winner. In 10 seasons as a head coach at the college level (seven at North Alabama and three at ULL), he's only had won losing season, and that was his first. He's led the Ragin' Cajuns to three straight nine-win seasons, and would bring a lot of energy to the table.

Chad Morris (OC at Clemson)

All signs seem to point toward him staying on Dabo Swinney's staff at Clemson, but given the right offer, he may jump for a chance to start off his head coaching career in the SEC. Vandy became very innovative on offense during Franklin's tenure, so it would make sense for them to look for a strong offensive mind.

Herb Hand (OC at Vanderbilt)

One of the best choices for the Commodores could very well be in their own backyard. Hand has been the offensive line coach at the school, and most seem to believe that he has the pedigree to be a head coach. He's found success wherever he goes and would certainly represent the university well.

Pat Narduzzi (DC at Michigan State)

Given what Michigan State has been able to accomplish defensively under Narduzzi, the guy simply has to get a look. Even though he hasn't been a head coach at this level before, he's proven that he's excellent at what he does. There's no doubt that the defense was the key reason why the Spartans won the Rose Bowl this year. And we all know what they say about defense in the SEC....

Derek Mason (DC at Stanford)

In my opinion, this is Vandy's best choice. Mason and Narduzzi are arguably the two best defensive coordinators in the entire country, but what sets Mason apart from the pack is his proven track record at an academic school like Stanford. He's an excellent recruiter and has worked for two well-respected head coaches in David Shaw and Jim Harbaugh. Luring him away from the Cardinal may be difficult though. However, Mason is going to be a head coach within the next year though, so he could certainly do worse than an SEC team that's had two straight nine-win seasons. This hire would be the easiest transition for Vandy following Franklin's departure.

Who do you think Vanderbilt should hire as its next head coach? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow @FanIQ or myself on Twitter!

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