Saturday, September 25, 2021

Inside USC Firing Clay Helton and Searching for Its Next Football Coach

As for the USC firing, Clay Helton was among the more civilized and organized. No tarmac, no media leaks.

After a disappointing loss to Stanford on Sunday, USC athletic director Mike Bohn decided it was time for a change of leadership for the football program. After a day to put all aspects of the announcement in order, Bohn met with Helton on Monday at 1:30 p.m. to inform him of the decision. The two then went to a regularly scheduled team meeting at 2:10 a.m. to inform the student-athletes and coaching staff so that they could first hear it from their coach and Eddie.

The only member of the program who was in charge was associate head coach Donnett Williams, who was informed just before the team meeting that he would be the Trojans’ interim head coach.

Shortly after, the announcement went out: Helton and USC were separating. He was the third consecutive USC coach to be fired mid-season. But his dismissal saved him from the chill of an airport shooting when Lane Kiffin returned from road damage in 2013, or the chaos of Steve Sarkeesian reportedly discovered in 2015 that he was not from the athletic department but from friends after media reports. was removed from the scriptures. .

“I think it means a lot to a lot of players to have a moment like that after hearing this news,” captain Ben Griffiths said on Tuesday. “None of us were really up for it. So yeah, I think it’s a personal moment that we as players should keep very close to our hearts and I’m glad he got to talk to us and that Got a moment to say what he wanted to say.

If all goes according to plan, this is the way USC will proceed with the search for Helton’s successor: organized, organized and under-the-radar.

Or at least as under-the-radar as the search for the next head coach of one of college football’s blue-blooded programs might be.

As of Monday night, USC had not spoken to any candidates for the position, according to a source in the athletic department who spoke on condition of anonymity. But, the source said, there had already been some backchanneling as representatives from Power 5 head coaches have reached out to USC to express their customers’ interest in the position.

USC will be in no particular hurry to find its head coach. The search is expected to escalate into early December, when several top coaches will lead their teams to conference championship games.

“We’ve already started building out all the elements involved in building our profile, solid search,” Bohn said at a news conference after Tuesday’s exercise. “I’m looking forward to that.”

The process will not be led by a search firm. In previous soccer coach searches, Bohn and associate athletic director Brandon Sosna—who worked together in Cincinnati before moving to USC in 2019—have used the firms to help conduct tasks such as background checks, Self led efforts. A similar pattern is expected to follow in the USC process as well, the source said.

USC is trying to go in search of no filter, no need for an offensive guru or defensive-minded coach to be the next leader of the Trojans. The hope, the source said, is to eliminate such prejudices and instead find the best cultural fit for USC.

The fit will be important for USC as it tries to return to the standards of its 11 national championships. The source said there is a sense of urgency and pressure on this coaching quest as USC is now 16 years old and three head coaches have been stripped of its final title.

Programs like Nebraska and Tennessee have repeatedly missed hiring and have to go about the process every three years, only to find themselves slipping further and further from national relevance. USC’s Power Brokers wants to be intentional in this quest and find the right coaches to make sure the program doesn’t fall into a similar fate.

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“This is going to be a really important opportunity for us to pull the USC family together and bring a leader that we can unite around who can be a great ambassador for us and a great leader, a great recruiter. Maybe and be someone who helps make USC football something special,” Bonn said on Tuesday.

Competing for that level of success was probably the only way Helton could have saved his job. The source said that USC wanted to see the football team win the Pac-12 title and be involved in college football playoff talks for the school to retain it in 2022.

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When it became clear after the Stanford loss that USC would not be in the mix for the four-team playoffs, the source said, it was time for the Trojans to start looking for their next coach.

Bohn said on Tuesday, “I don’t think we had the same sense of belief that with all the resources and commitment we put together that we can really aspire to those national championship aspirations that we talk about all the time.” let’s talk.”

But USC thinks it’s also the right time to look for a coach. Since his arrival nearly two years ago, Bohn has grown the size of the football program’s support staff in recruitment, nutrition, social media, strength and conditioning and other areas that were underdeveloped by the previous athletic administration.

These investments have begun to help USC recruit, as evidenced by the talent boom from 2020 signing classes to 2021. This progress – as well as the prospect of an extended playoff and optimism around the new alliance between the Pac-12s. , Big Ten and ACC – is expected to get interested from a strong array of aspirants for the job of Head Coaching.

The source said that whatever the next coach, USC expects Williams to be part of their staff. The athletic department expects any coach to retain an adjunct to Williams’ reputation as a recruiter. USC is open to retaining other assistants on staff, the source said, although that will remain until the incoming head coach.

Inside USC Firing Clay Helton and Searching for Its Next Football Coach
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