Hot Seat Gets Even Hotter For Embattled Trojans Head Coach
The first shoe has dropped in the process of USC firing Head Coach Clay Helton, and it hit Offensive Line Coach Neil Callaway squarely on the head.
Callaway has been let go, and Offensive Coordinator Tee Martin has been demoted – not in title, mind you but in his game-day responsibilities. Helton will now call all the plays. Running backs coach Tim Drevno will take over coaching the offensive-line, which he did at USC in 2014.
I won’t bore you with all the PR-produced quotes from Helton but I can pretty much figure out what happened here. Athletic Director Lynn Swann called Helton into his office on Monday and said something along the lines of “this is not acceptable” and “changes need to be made.”
Helton actually meets with Swann every Monday but this meeting was doubt different than the other ones.
Helton responded by sending the hatchet Callaway’s way and attempted to calm fans’ and media’s criticism of Martin’s play calling by taking over that duty himself. Helton was USC’s offensive coordinator and playcaller from 2013 to 2015 before becoming head coach.
I also know what this means –Helton is now really on the hot seat at USC. This sets him up to get fired at the end of the season. The next step in the process is for Swann to deliver a “vote of confidence” to the media about Helton.
If that happens, then you can start looking for a list of coaches to replace Helton.
The first thing Swann wants to see is immediate improvement. That may very well happen, as the Trojans’ next game is against Oregon State, The 2-6 Beavers are one of the worst teams in college football and have given up 77 points (to Ohio State), 56 (to Washington State) and 52 (to Arizona State). Heck, they even allowed Cal to score 49.
However, they did come back to beat Colorado this past week and USC traditionally plays poorly in cold fall night games in Corvallis.
Helton’s team is 4-4. The Trojans did go to the Rose Bowl two years ago and won the Pac-12 last year, but were propped up by the brilliance of quarterback Sam Darnold, masking many problems the Trojans have had under Helton, namely poor discipline leading to too many penalties, terrible tackling on defense and poor conditioning.
As well as poor play calling from Martin – with an assist from Helton, who has been making many run calls anyway.
After Oregon State, USC closes out the season with what should be two more cakewalks, Cal and UCLA, but does end the season against Notre Dame. Get blown out by the Irish and Helton may as well clean out his office after the game.