The Latest: Vanderbilt's Mason reverts to coach-only role

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on SEC Media Days (all times local):

11 a.m.

Derek Mason is enjoying his new life as Vanderbilt's coach.

"Head coach only," he said for clarification.

Though Mason actually is entering his fifth season with the Commodores, he is dropping the additional duties of defensive coordinator. Mason hired good friend Jason Tarver, a former NFL assistant with the Raiders and 49ers, to lead the defense after serving as his own coordinator the last three years.

Mason says shedding the extra title allows him to focus on "being head coach and CEO."

Vanderbilt finished only 5-7 overall and 1-7 in the SEC last season. Even so, offered an optimistic outlook for his team. He says "I believe it is our time."

Mason says Kyle Shurmur is "one of the most dynamic and underrated quarterbacks" in the league and a reason the Commodores should improve this season.

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9:52 a.m.

Gus Malzahn says his Auburn Tigers are motivated to take the next step after coming so close to their championship goals last season.

Auburn took regular-season wins over Alabama and Georgia when each team was ranked No. 1 last season. The Tigers won the Southeastern Conference's Western Division before losing to Georgia in the SEC championship game — costing them a shot to compete in the College Football Playoff.

Malzahn says at SEC Media Days his Tigers will be "a hungry team trying to take that next step."

Auburn will return to Atlanta to open its season against Washington on Sept. 1. Malzahn says the game will be "a good measuring stick for where this team is."

The Tigers are expected to have a strong offense led by quarterback Jarrett Stidham and running back Kam Martin.

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2:27 a.m.

Gus Malzahn's Auburn Tigers are coming off an interesting 2017 season, enjoying the highs of wins over eventual SEC champion Georgia and national champion Alabama before losing to the Bulldogs in the SEC championship game.

Auburn also lost to Central Florida in the Peach Bowl to finish their season.

Malzahn returns 14 starters, including quarterback Jarrett Stidham, and will discuss the Tigers' outlook on the final day of the SEC Media Days on Thursday.

Auburn finished 10-4 overall and 7-1 in the SEC last season and will return to Atlanta on Sept. 2 to open their season against Washington.

Also scheduled to speak on Thursday will be Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason and South Carolina coach Will Muschamp.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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