“With win over rival UCLA, No. 23 USC keeps Pac-12 South hopes alive — and saves Clay Helton’s job?”
That was the question our headline from Saturday evening asked when it comes to the future of Helton at USC. Helton entered the 2019 campaign squarely on the hot seat, then proceeded to crank up the temperature even further with a 3-3 start to the season. Since then, however, the Trojans have gone 5-1 — the lone loss was to No. 7 Oregon — to take it from a near-certainty that the coach is canned to the very real possibility that he’s saved his job — or is at least on the verge of saving.
Helton’s fate will, in part, be decided by a pair of individuals new to the university in Carol Folt, hired as president in March, and Mike Bohn, brought on as the next athletic director earlier this month. And, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, Helton has received “a lot of support” from both Bohn and Folt, although other factions who are anti-Helton make the path for a return in 2020 not entirely clear.
From 247Sports.com‘s transcription of Feldman’s Monday radio interview:
The biggest job out there and it’s also the most entangled is the one that’s happening at USC, I mean, from what I’ve been told … is just there’s a lot of support from the new AD Mike Bohn, as well as president Carol Folt, for Clay Helton,” Feldman said. “They’re very comfortable with him, but there is going to be a lot of push back from some very influential USC people about, ‘Hey, we’re done with Clay Helton. We like him as a guy, we just don’t think he can really get it going here and get it done.’ And they’re 8-4 and he actually did a good job of getting to 8-4, given all the injuries, third-string quarterback … but that’s the one that could create some dominoes, if USC does, in fact, open up.
USC’s regular season has come to an end, with the Trojans sitting at 7-2 in Pac-12 play. Utah currently leads the South Division at 7-1, but will face Colorado at home in Week 14. If the Utes lose, it would be the Trojans who would face Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game by virtue of their head-to-head win over Utah in September.
Helton is in his fourth full season with the Trojans after going 5-4 as the interim head coach in 2015. In those first three seasons, the Trojans went 10-3, 11-3 and 5-7; they’re now 8-4 thus this season, giving Helton an overall record of 40-21, with a 31-12 mark in conference play.