Why did USC fire Clay Helton? Loss to Stanford was final straw in disappointing tenure

clay helton 082719 getty

clay helton 082719 getty

USC on Monday introduced the firing of head coach Clay Helton, two days after the 14th-ranked Trojans’ 42-28 loss to unranked Stanford.

Athletic director Mike Bohn introduced the transfer, saying USC “provided every resource necessary for our program to compete for championships” during the last two school soccer offseasons. Bohn added that these additions created heightened expectations for this system and, after the loss to the Cardinal, it was evident they might not be met “without a change in leadership.”

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Bohn introduced cornerbacks coach and defensive go sport coordinator Donte Williams would take over as interim coach for the rest of the season.

Helton later launched an announcement concerning his firing:

The announcement lastly ends Helton’s USC profession after a number of seasons that might be described as irritating for Trojans followers; he took over head teaching duties full time in 2016, going 10-3 and 11-3 in his first two years there, respectively. After that, Helton’s Trojans by no means received greater than eight video games in a season, going 5-7, 8-5 and 5-1 in 2018, ’19 and ’20, respectively (the Trojans have been solely ready to play six video games in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). He confronted appreciable strain through the 2019 marketing campaign however received Bohn’s backing — with a caveat — on Dec. 4, 2019:

“Coach Helton and I will work together to take a hard look at all aspects of the football enterprise,” Bohn stated, “and will make the tough decisions necessary to compete at a championship level.”

It seems Bohn’s endurance and help ran out after Helton’s newest loss. With that, Sporting News breaks down USC’s choice to fire Helton, his profession because the Trojans’ head coach and the place this system heads from right here:

Why did USC fire Clay Helton?

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported Monday that USC was “disheartened” by the group’s blowout loss to Stanford. Despite outgaining the Cardinal 408-375, the Trojans gave up 5 touchdowns in 10 drives and a 31-yard interception return for landing. The rating additionally wasn’t indicative of how totally Stanford beat USC: The Trojans confronted a 42-13 deficit in the fourth quarter earlier than scoring two touchdowns in the final six minutes.

Helton wasn’t fired merely due to a foul displaying in opposition to Stanford, nevertheless; it was merely the final straw in what has been a largely irritating interval for Trojans followers.

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What was Clay Helton’s report at USC?

Helton went 46-24 at USC, a .657 successful proportion. That ranks ninth all time in program historical past however fifth among the many seven USC coaches who coached a minimum of as many video games as Helton did (70). His 46 wins rank sixth all time, however second-to-last amongst these coaches who matched his variety of video games coached.

Moreover, USC went 9-12 in opposition to ranked opponents after he took over full time in 2016, with three of these wins coming through the Trojans’ 10-win marketing campaign that yr. They have been even worse in opposition to top-10 opponents, going 3-6; their final such victory was a 30-23 win over No. 10 Utah to open the 2019 season; the Utes later completed seventeenth in the final AP Top 25 rankings.

Helton additionally had issue teaching in opposition to USC’s rivals, going 1-3 in opposition to Notre Dame, 3-3 in opposition to Stanford and 4-1 in opposition to UCLA. He received one Pac-12 soccer championship and was 1-2 in bowls.

Finally, Helton by no means matched the expectations that school soccer at massive had for the USC program. Aside from the 2016 season, Helton’s Trojans by no means completed ranked the identical or increased than they have been in the preseason:


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Who will substitute Clay Helton as USC’s coach?

In his announcement, Bohn made it clear he needs USC to compete for nationwide championships. To that finish, this system will conduct a nationwide seek for a coach “who will deliver on the championship aspirations we all share for our football program.”

Realistically, only some such coaches are ready to take over — with out making a downward or lateral transfer — and reside up to the unbelievable strain in Los Angeles. Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell has achieved nice success in the American Athletic Conference, however would he be prepared to go away a program he has constructed up right into a fringe nationwide energy and seems headed for the Big 12? James Franklin additionally has a confirmed observe report, however he has stated earlier than that Penn State — a standard Big Ten energy — is his dream job. Urban Meyer has been linked to the Trojans job earlier than, however he’s in his first yr as head coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

Outside of these three, what coaches stay? Billy Napier has been tied to high-profile coach openings for a number of seasons, however he has taken his time ready for the fitting Power 5 teaching job to open up. The soar from Louisiana to USC could be vital. Other coaches for consideration embrace, probably, Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, although he wasn’t profitable in his two-year stint as Mississippi State’s head coach (he went 14-12).

Former USC coaches Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin, at Texas and Ole Miss, respectively, will doubtless not be up for consideration.