Trojans Announce Embattled Coach Is Back For 2020
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com College Football Blogger
They are rejoicing in Eugene, Salt Lake City, Tempe and throughout the Pac-12.
Also across town in Westwood, tho they have their own problems.
This is all due to the fact that USC has shockingly decided to retain Clay Helton as its football coach. New Athletic Director Mike Bohn made the stunning announcement a couple of weeks after the Trojans completed an 8-4 regular season, one in which it beat Utah but was run out of the Coliseum in embarrassing fashion by Oregon.
Helton is college football’s poster child for mediocrity. While loaded with talent, the Trojans are undisciplined – they were 124th out of 130 in penalties in 2019 – often lack enthusiasm and focus and are maddening inconsistency as most recently evidenced by the contrast in the Utah and Oregon games.
His signature move is for the Trojans to come out red hot in the first quarter, then disappear for the rest of game.
Sure, he won a dramatic Rose Bowl and has 10-3 and 11-3 records on his coaching record but that’s more mirage than reality. In that 10-3 Rose Bowl season, USC started 1-3, including a 56-3 loss to Alabama. The 11-3 season had the brilliance of Sam Darnold mask the deficiencies of Helton.
The 4-7 record of 2018 and this year’s 8-4 is a more accurate measuring stick of Helton’s coaching acumen.
Helton, tho, may not be around for the long term. The Trojans open the season against Alabama, as they did so miserably in 2016 and in making the announcement, Bohn did not look beyond next season.
“Heading into 2020, ” he said “Coach Helton and I will work together to take a hard look at all aspects of the football enterprise and will make the tough decisions necessary to compete at a championship level.”
Note that “heading into 2020” part in the quote. There is nothing beyond it. It is entirely possible with the early signing date – and USC is currently a “how can this happen at USC 67th in the composite rankings – that “Hot Seat Helton” could still be let go after next season.
And the last thing USC football needs is another year of coaching uncertainty and drama.