Vanderbilt athletics director David Williams is leaving town, and when he "reappears" he hopes to have a new football coach.
Williams confirmed Monday night he was in the middle of scheduling interviews and was about to leave. Williams declined to say where he would travel for the interviews, noting "that depends on who ends up on the list, where they are at and how many we can get in one place."
CBSSports.com reported that Vanderbilt had requested an interview with Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason. ESPN's Joe Schad reported that Mason's interview will take place the "middle of this week."
Williams would not comment on specific candidates.
"I'm not saying (Mason) won't be on the list or won't be interviewed," Williams said. "We're trying to go through the list, trying to look at people who we think we would be good and trying to gauge the interest they have."
Vanderbilt Chancellor Nick Zeppos will be involved in the interview process, but Williams did not say whether Zeppos would be joining him at the interview locations. Vanderbilt donor John Ingram has been asked to have a role in the process as well.
"We'll supplement that (search) group based on need," Williams added. Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search is spearheading the search process.
Ingram said it would be great to find a candidate with a strong personality like James Franklin, who left for Penn State, but he added that Vanderbilt would be looking for the best mix of qualities.
"One thing is certain — interest is high," Ingram said. "We're only looking for one person. You don't need 20 interviews to do that."
Williams reiterated that he is looking for a candidate who understands and "fits" the Vanderbilt mold.
"Sometime you get names sent to you and scratch your head and think, 'Do you think that person fits Vanderbilt?'" Williams said. "We pride ourselves on academics, compliance and those sorts of things, so it's interesting to see some of names that are pushed toward us.
"None of the lists I saw last time said you have to hire this guy named James Franklin. None of the lists people sent to me had James Franklin on the list. It's kind of interesting how these lists are developed."
Recruiting site 247Sports.com listed Vanderbilt with 13 commitments on Monday, down from 20 on Saturday. Safety Kyle Gibson (Seffner, Fla.) on Monday tweeted: "I have not decommitted from Vanderbilt but I have opened up my recruitment." Gibson is planning an official visit this weekend to Central Florida.
Since Saturday, two Vanderbilt commitments have said they are now planning to go to Penn State and at least four others have been offered scholarships by Penn State.
Williams said that as long as Franklin is recruiting within the framework of the NCAA rules, he can't complain about the number of Vanderbilt commitments that Franklin is trying to get to Penn State.
"Let's wait and see," Williams told Sports Night on 102.5-FM The Game. "None of those kids have signed a letter of intent yet. … Commits change their minds because they have a right to until the sign, and universities can change their minds.
"I've got more important things to do right now than to try to figure out who he is offering a scholarship to."
Mason, 44, was a finalist for the 2012 Broyles Award given to college football's top assistant coach. He has been at Stanford since 2010 — the last three years as defensive coordinator — and coached the Minnesota Vikings' secondary from 2007-09.
Mason interviewed for the Louisville job, according to ESPN. He declined the chance to interview for several jobs in recent weeks, including Connecticut, Army and Washington, according to the San Jose Mercury News.