After months of trying to make up for Sarkisian’s embarrassing mistakes and searching for a new head coach, USC has finally made a decision. Helton has left the title of being the interim coach behind and has been hired as the head coach of USC.
Helton has been the assistant coach for the Trojans since 2010, working under Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. He has now finally become head coach after the official announcement was made on Nov. 30th. Helton was given the job of interim coach for a short period of time as Pat Haden and others searched for a new coach to replace Sarkisian after his multiple incidents to guide the Trojans through the future season. While looking for another coach, Haden was still evaluating his choices and wanted to find the best coach for the team. Helton was still the interim coach at the time and had the goal of becoming the permanent head coach for USC football.
“After weeks of searching the collegiate and pro ranks, interviewing candidates, and speaking with head coaches, athletic directors, NFL executives, and very knowledgeable football people, and after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searching for in a coach was right here in front of us,” Haden reported to the USC Athletics website.
Helton has been extremely successful in the past, as he was the assistant coach for the Memphis Tigers for ten years, working as the running backs’ coach, receivers’ coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks’ coach. In 2010, Helton took the job of the offensive coordinator as well as the quarterbacks’ coach for USC. Helton has helped to bring a lot of success to USC quarterbacks, including Cody Kessler and Matt Barkley, as Kessler won the most efficient passing season in USC history and Barkley won the Wuerffel Trophy, a trophy given to the best football player who combines community service with athletic and academic achievement. Thanks to Helton, USC’s offense ranked in the National Top 25 in passing efficiency, passing offense, third-down conversions and scoring offense in 2014.
Since Helton took over after Sarkisian’s dismissal, the Trojans are 6-3 and secured the Pac-12 South with a 40-21 victory against cross-town rival UCLA. During the time of Helton’s position as interim coach, Helton has won two victories against two National Top 25 teams, Utah and UCLA, as well as out-rushed the opponents in both games. Haden’s wins are well-deserved and show that he has the ability to coach a team. He knew that he had the skill to step up to the head coaching position and be successful.
“I want to be the head coach. I also know the reality of the situation; in college football at this level, you have to prove yourself,” Helton had said to the press.
With Helton as the new head coach, USC fans are pleased with Haden’s decision. USC fans and team members have warmly welcomed him as their new coach.
“The minute Helton became interim coach, it was obvious that he just had to be the head coach. Helton has been loyal to the Trojans ever since he first took the job at the very beginning, and Pat Haden’s decision was the right one when he declared Clay Helton the new head coach,” sophomore Courtney Spears said.
With Helton as the new coach, many fans and players are expecting him to lead the team for the upcoming bowl, the Holiday Bowl, held this year in San Diego. It has almost been 50 years since USC has faced Wisconsin, in 1963, but that will soon change when USC plays them on Dec. 30th. As that date begins to get closer, Helton hopes to prove himself and win the game against the Badgers.
Although the season had an uneasy start, Trojan fans are content with the way the rest of the season has turned out since, ending in 25th place. With Helton becoming the new head coach, he has led the Trojans into the Pac-12 Championship, and he will hopefully continue to guide the football team for as long as he will continue to coach for USC.