Clay Helton Fired at SC

They’re in they’re own, special rareified air. Can’t see the forest for the trees…

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They must be among the “elites” we hear so much about.

Crap. This is the worst news in the past month. Now USC is going to have a coach who can coach is way out of a high school game and a roster that is top 4. The days of Utah ruling the South were cool.


Let’s go get a win on Oct. 9 in LA before Urb shows up to mess up the South.

I am really sorry to see Helton go, but we all knew he wouldn’t last forever. From this morning’s LA Times:

Howdy, I’m your host, Austin Knoblauch , filling in for Houston Mitchell , who’s probably busy exploring a bid for the permanent USC football coaching job. Let’s get right to the news.

Ryan Kartje on USC’s decision to fire football coach Clay Helton : When Clay Helton was first elevated to head coach, after years of scandal and impropriety surrounding USC football, he was viewed as a virtuous caretaker, capable of restoring a troubled program with a fresh sense of integrity and stability.

But that virtue, unquestioned to the end, was not enough amid towering expectations. After years of unfulfilled promises and festering fan frustration over the direction of USC’s underachieving football program, the Trojans fired Helton just two games into his seventh season.

USC athletic director Mike Bohn twice chose to keep Helton as coach even in the face of fierce ire from the Trojans’ fanbase. But by Monday, in the wake of a disastrous defeat to Stanford two nights earlier, Bohn’s patience had finally worn thin.

“As I committed to upon my arrival at USC, during the past two offseasons we provided every resource necessary for our football program to compete for championships,” Bohn said in a statement. “The added resources carried significantly increased expectations for our team’s performance, and it is already evident that, despite the enhancements, those expectations would not be met without a change in leadership.”

USC coach Clay Helton stands on the sideline at the Coliseum during Saturday's loss to Stanford.

USC coach Clay Helton stands on the sideline at the Coliseum during Saturday’s loss to Stanford. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Associate head coach Donte Williams will serve as USC’s interim coach. He is the first Black coach in Trojans football history. Bohn said he made the decision to fire Helton and elevate Williams with the hope of salvaging the Trojans’ 2021 campaign.

Williams said during the “Trojans Live” radio show that he didn’t plan to make any major changes, but rather “enhance everything we do.” Williams, who also serves as cornerbacks coach, found out about his new position just before the team was told on Monday afternoon.

“You’re really going to enjoy Donte Williams,” Bohn said in a separate interview on “Trojans Live.” “I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. Everything is in front of us as far as our aspirations to win the league still.”

Further staff changes are not anticipated at this time. But with Helton gone just two games into the season, Bohn will have the next three months to conduct a national search for his replacement.

“With our storied history, our talented young roster, and the major investments we’ve made in the infrastructure of our football organization, I’m optimistic that we are better positioned right now than we have been at any other time in the past decade to recruit the best and right leader for us,” Bohn said.

Columnist Bill Plaschke on the USC coaching search : On a day when the USC football program finally put torment in its past, there was no containing the size of its future.

It burst through my in-box Monday afternoon almost immediately after Clay Helton was fired.

It came in the form of a statement from Rick Caruso , chairman of the USC Board of Trustees.

“I appreciate everything that Clay Helton has done for our students over the last several years,” Caruso wrote. “However, it has become abundantly clear that it is time to make a change and I am supportive of the actions taken today by President [Carol] Folt and AD [Mike] Bohn . We have a proud football tradition of excellence, and I am confident in our ability to attract a world-class coach who will return the USC football program to the most competitive and highest levels of collegiate football.”

Did you hear that? “World-class coach?” “Most competitive and highest levels of collegiate football?”

Those lofty goals should go without saying, but the Trojans’ leading power broker said it anyway. The tone has been set for a football coaching search unlike any the school has conducted in 20 years.

They need to go big, go powerful, go national, go gravitas.

Go greatness.

They need to forgo the odd, inner-circle hirings of the last two decades and hire the absolute biggest, brightest and most influential figure possible. This is still a plum job, and, while it might be intriguing to uncover a diamond in the rough, don’t get cute.

Hire somebody who is somebody.

Maybe, they’ve botched this three times a row. We’ll see what happens. It would be funny if they get Urban, only to find out that he really doesn’t have the passion anymore.


Urban seems to have the passion when the place that he lands has abundant talent.


I’d be more scared of Chris Petersen.


The way Bohn has set this up, there could be pressure to retain the interim HC, or at least create a rift between the USC high rollers and a lot of players, ex-players & their families.

We’ll see.

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The players always rally for the interim coach; it’s a classic rookie AD mistake that they made with Helton. There’s no way they fall for that one again unless the interim’s name is Urban. The players, ex-players, and families are just fine once they start winning.

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They should rename USC’s field “The Tarmac”.


Kyle is mentioned as an option in the LA Times:


Never say never, but Whit is official set for life at the U - a coaching career for as long as he wants and a job after. Maybe five years ago when they hired Helton, but it seems doubtful today.

But you never know, maybe he can look at USC and see that as the quickest route to the CFP before he finally hangs it up. I don’t think USC boosters and fans would view that as a sexy enough hire.


Completely agree. Alabama, SC, Texas, Florida etc are horrible jobs. I would prefer Utah, Cal or Washington jobs over any of these other gigs. Cash wise, place you live and stress level from fans are 100x better. I’d even add Duke to that list.


Clay Helton is an extremely good person. That is huge, and he has done much to help make the program look better, despite underachieving badly.

And now he will make $10M on the buyout. I want to get fired by USC!

In a way I hope USC hires Luke Fickell, just because it will likely tank Cinci just before they go to the Big 12. Odds are whoever replaces him at Cinci will not come anywhere close to the same level of success.

James Franklin at USC terrifies me, but he would be very good for the PAC-12 (USC with Franklin is guaranteed to make noise in the CFP, especially with Old Man Saban coming closer to retirement).


USC is a terrible job and it is a rare person who can gain the support of the old-money Country Clubbers who support/control the program, while being solid on the field too.

Watch them f&#k around and hire Jack del Rio or some other USC-connected guy to lead them back to chronic underperformance.


Not gonna lie, Alabama is very similar to SC. It’s rare to find a coach who can make it work like Nick Saban. Also, I pray they hire Jack Del Rio. lol


I liked this from Ashley Adamson


About half those candidates make sense to me. I’d add Dan Mullen as well. If the world was USC’s oyster Lincoln Riley is the no-brainer, but that ain’t happening. $7 million a year with a $30 million buyout? Nope.


Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Favorites to be next full-time USC coach

  • Luke Fickell +600
  • James Franklin +600
  • Chris Petersen +700
  • Bob Stoops +800
  • Matt Campbell +1000
  • PJ Fleck +1000
  • Bill O’Brien +1100
  • Urban Meyer +1200
  • Mario Cristobal +1500
  • Gary Patterson +1800
  • Tony Elliott +2000
  • Lane Kiffin +3000


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