It’s official. Clay Helton will be the head coach at USC in 2020. USC Athletics Director Mike Bohn confirmed that decision on Twitter on Wednesday.
“I am pleased to let you know Coach Helton will continue to be our head coach,” Bohn said on his Twitter account. “His commitment to our student-athletes and to leading with integrity is vital to restoring our championship program, which is the goal for all of our teams.”
Bohn’s official statements confirming Helton’s job status for 2020 comes days after an erroneous report was published suggesting Helton had coached his final game with the Trojans, only for that story to be widely shut down almost immediately by multiple reputable sources. It is also the long-awaited word, one way or the other, from the new USC AD on Helton’s status after initially holding off on making any decisions so soon after being hired.
USC’s season may not have gone as some have desired a season after missing out on the bowl season, but Helton does have the Trojans ranked in the top 25 and heading back to the bowl season. USC was one win shy of playing for a Pac-12 title. So, for now, any dreams of USC fans hoping to land Urban Meyer as their next head coach may have to wait at least one more year before any changes occur with the program.
Earlier today, Mike Bohn was officially introduced as the new athletics director at USC. Among the top issues for Bohn to address when meeting with the media was the job security of head football coach Clay Helton. Not too surprisingly, Bohn was not particularly interested in suggesting he is ready to name a replacement to lead the Trojans on the football field.
“We all understand the importance of football; it’s very similar to every institution that I’ve been a part of,” Bohn said when speaking to the media at an introductory press conference on Thursday, according to Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com. “It’d be premature to be talking about coaches or any situation when I just arrived and am in the process of learning and trying to listen. But I have a good sense of really quickly being able to connect and find out how we’re doing and where we’re going, and I want to impact recruiting.”
This comment is not exactly a strong show of support for Helton, but it is not a statement of incoming doom for Helton either. Realistically, this is the safest of answers the new AD could possibly give as he is not drawing any line and leaving time to evaluate the situation deeper. There is still a month of football to play, and USC could still end the season on a strong note that could suggest Helton is worthy of retaining the job. The popular opinion seems to be that USC should move on from Helton as the Trojans have regressed in a number of ways since winning the Rose Bowl three seasons ago. USC won the Pac-12 championship two years ago but lost to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl (the Rose Bowl was used as a College Football Playoff semifinal, so the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions were transplanted to the Cotton Bowl).
Last season, the downward trend continued with no bowl appearance nat all. USC needs one more win in their final three games to clinch bowl eligibility this season with road games against Arizona State and Cal in the next two weeks. USC hosts UCLA in the regular-season finale and the Trojans lost to Chip Kelly and the Bruins last season. Failing to go bowling would likely lead to a guaranteed coaching change with the Trojans.
So Bohn has some time before any decision really needs to be made on the future of the head coaching position at USC.