Clay Helton Fired by USC

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Clay Helton has been fired as head football coach of USC, according to a report from ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry.

Associate head coach Donte Williams will serve as interim head coach.

Helton’s firing comes after USC’s embarrassing 42-28 loss to unranked Stanford at home on Saturday night. The Trojans entered the game as the No. 14 team in the nation, but laid an egg in an important Pac-12 contest.

Helton, 49, was named head coach in 2015 after serving as the interim when then head coach Steve Sarkisian took a leave of absence and was subsequently fired.

Helton helped guide the Trojans to a 10-3 record in 2016, culminating in a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State. Helton then led them to a 11-3 season in 2017, losing in the Cotton Bowl to Ohio State.

Overall, Helton went 46-24 in charge of USC, but was on the hot seat entering the season.

USC athletic director Mike Bohn put out a statement, saying that the expectations of the program were not met under Helton and that USC will conduct a national search to determine who the next head coach will be.

Helton becomes the third straight USC head coach to be fired mid-season, joining Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin.

Written by Nick Geddes

Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.


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  1. As a proud Trojan alum, I am relieved for our team and university and sad for Coach Helton. I met him a couple of times and he is a genuine person and great ambassador for the sport. That being said it was time. It might have been time a couple of years ago. I have a Bruin brother who is very disappointed today.

  2. Trust me, look at my avatar, I can assure you it always “sounds” good firing a coach, until you realize you must fill the vacancy with someone better to avoid looking ridiculous. They’re also comes a time when you become known as a university who changes out coaches about as often as people get an alignment for their vehicle, and big time coaches stop seriously considering you. Caution.

  3. UT swims with sharks. USC is an island without fear of local predation. The wounds are self-inflicted. Helton has been the coach since 2015, so they haven’t been changing coaches annually like UT. They just accepted mediocrity on the field, while pursuing Stanford academically. The school’s academic reputation has risen as they have sacrificed USC’s raison d’etre. I’d like to get back to contending for national titles again myself.

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