Given the temperature of his coaching seat, would you expect any different?
Following a week’s worth of speculation, USC confirmed in a press conference early Thursday afternoon that Cincinnati’s Mike Bohn would be replacing Lynn Swann as the university’s athletic director. With deciding the fate of current head football coach looming as Job 1 for Bohn, the new AD demurred when asked about Clay Helton‘s future with the program, stating, “It’d be premature to be talking about coaches or any situation when I just arrived.”
Interestingly, Helton didn’t meet with Bohn prior to the new AD’s hiring, although he did get a face-to-face with him after the press conference — along with the 20 head coaches of the university’s other varsity sports, it should be noted. Following that initial meeting, Helton was effusive in his praise of his new boss.
From the Los Angeles Times:
What an exciting time for our university today,” Helton said, opting for an optimistic message during his Thursday evening news conference. “I think [USC President] Dr. [Carol L.] Folt has done a wonderful job across our university in hiring quality people in her transition. Today was no different.”
Helton used the words “awesome,” “positive,” and “exciting” to describe [his and Bohn’s] initial interactions, ignoring the wide speculation that the hiring of Bohn is a possible precursor to his firing at the end of the season.
“To see [Bohn’s] energy and his positivity hitting the ground running today was awesome,” Helton said. “I just really appreciated him. To take the time on this day to sit down with all 21 coaches, to sit down with me personally, to take the time to visit with our team, that’s big-time. That’s hitting the ground running and touching the people that matter.
Coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons his first two full years with the Trojans, a 5-7 record in 2018 put Helton squarely on the hot seat entering 2019. After a 3-1 start to this current campaign, USC, which has dealt with myriad injuries to key players throughout the year, proceeded to lose three of its next five, although all three of those setbacks came against ranked opponents. Two of those defeats came on the road, but the home loss was a 32-point drubbing at the hands of Oregon last Saturday that had the calls for Helton’s scalp growing in intensity.
USC will face Arizona State, Cal and crosstown rival UCLA to close out the 2019 regular season.