Considering Himself Outside the Title Picture, USC Fires Clay Helton

With the University of Southern California’s defense crushed, its offense stagnant and its lack of discipline – the kicker was kicked out on the opening kickoff – fans of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum booed the team during a 42-28 thumping at the hands of Stanford. , who entered Saturday’s game as a 17-point underdog.

Later, seventh-year coach Clay Helton pleaded for calm.

“At the end of the season, see where we are,” he told reporters.

Wherever the Trojans are at the end of the season, Helton won’t be around to see it. He was fired on Monday amid growing fury from school alumni and former players, for whom Saturday was not just a bad game, but another confirmation that the football program will never become a national title contender under Helton.

In fact, athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement announcing the national search for a new coach that the Trojans would be better off for the rest of the season with cornerback coach Donnett Williams, 39, who has never even had one. As coordinator, also served as interim head coach.

bohan, who replaces Lynn Swann As athletic director two years earlier, said that despite adding resources to the football program since his arrival, it was still clear after two games – a win over San Jose State and a loss to Stanford – that USC would go anywhere. The national championship was nowhere close to becoming a contender. “It is already clear that, despite the increase, those expectations will not be met without a change in leadership,” he said.

If Helton’s firing at the start of this season was a blow, it’s de rigueur for the Trojans, who have had enough History of bloodbath with football coaches.

lane kiffin Returning to Los Angeles after a loss at Arizona State, he was fired at the airport after being called from the team bus. Steve Sarkeesian repeatedly checked into rehab after being fired mid-season showing up drunk. And years ago, John Robinson returned home from Christmas shopping to find a message on his answering machine that he had been axed.

The decision, however, may have been made a long time ago, but a six-year contract extension was awarded by Swann to Helton ahead of the 2018 season – one he expects will be paid closer to $5 million this season And it will go on for two more years.

The Trojans, who were taken to the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl by quarterback Sam Darnold in Helton’s first two full seasons, have gone 19–14 since Helton signed a new contract. In last year’s pandemic-shortened season, the Trojans won five of their conference games, but their hopes of breaking into the college football playoffs vanished when they were upset at their home turf by Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

Helton never found a foothold with USC fans, who were confused that former athletic director Pat Haden – who, like his successor Swann, was a star football player at the school – offered Helton an interim appointment after Sarkeesian was sacked. Promoted to coach, and then given permanent assignment. Hayden had previously passed on to another interim coach, opting not to retain Ed Orgeron, who had coached Louisiana State to a national championship two years earlier.

Helton’s coaching staff was a revolving door, and each August he promised a more disciplined team. But a spectacular comeback victory over conference rival UCLA last year was also caused by the Trojans taunting their rivals when the game ended – Helton collapsed on the ground trying to pull his players away.

The scene was a picture of a coach who had no control over his team.

The cost of removing Helton would be considerable, possibly in the neighborhood of $15 million (the terms of her contract are not public as USC is a private school). But the $315 million for renovations to the Coliseum to be paid for through ticket sales, a substantial financial hit by the pandemic and dwindling attendance, also cost nothing to do.

On Monday, USC decided it was too much to bear.

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