USC athletic director Lynn Swann has taken the mystery out of it and announced that the school is keeping Clay Helton as its head coach.
Clay Helton Gets A Reprieve
Swann issued a statement Sunday, that read in part, “It is my firm belief that we have a good team returning next year and a solid foundation in place, and that Clay Helton is a good coach. Let me be clear to everyone, our players, our recruits and our fans. Clay Helton is our head coach and he will continue to be our head coach.”
USC finished the season 5-7 and lost the last three in a row to Cal, UCLA, and Notre Dame. The Trojans were ranked anywhere from 15th to 19th in various pre-season polls after having the #4 recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports.
The Trojans suffered from injuries on defense and wild inconsistency on offense throughout the year. The loss to UCLA was presumed to be the death knell for Helton at USC. He is 32-17 after three full years at the healm.
Consistency Is Key For Swann
Swann said, in his statement, “Nobody is happy with our record. Everyone deserves better.” He said he made the decision based on consistency. “I am a strong advocate of consistency within a program, sticking by a leader, supporting them and helping them and their team improve.”
Swann went on to point out that Notre Dame fans wanted a change from Brian Kelly a couple of years ago, and now the Irish will be competing for a national championship.
Helton issued his own statement following the release of Swann’s. “I am very appreciative of the support that Mr. Swann and the USC administration has given our team over the last three seasons, as well as the trust and belief they have in the future.”
Other Heads Will Roll
There are clearly going to be staff changes before next season. Offensive coordinator Tee Martin was stripped of his play calling duties in the last few weeks of the season. Ironically, it was Helton calling the plays during the three-game losing streak. Still after such a move, there is likely to be a new offensive coordinator next year. Helton alluded to changes in his statement. “I have met with Mr. Swann and discussed changes and improvements that will be made moving forward. Our staff, our players and I will work tirelessly to produce a disciplined team that executes at a championship level. “
Even is a rivalry game with a chance to knock Notre Dame out of the college football playoffs, the Trojans drew around 59,000 to the LA Coliseum for Saturday night’s game. Even with the reduced capacity due to on-going renovations, that is nearly 20,000 below capacity; a once unheard-of idea for USC-Notre Dame. It did not go without notice that prior to kick-off, a plane flew overhead, with a banner advocating for the firing of Helton.
Ryan Abraham covers USC every day for Insidetroy.com. He says the fan reaction is not evenly split.
We are getting a lot of this on Twitter and our message boards. Fans are NOT happy. https://t.co/Uof93purNx
— Ryan Abraham (@insidetroy) November 25, 2018
Swann knows he does not have a consensus in keeping the third-year head coach. “I have heard from many in the Trojans fan base. Some will be happy that Coach Helton remains our coach. Some will not. I love our fans’ passion about USC football. They have high standards as do we.”