Sunday, September 26, 2021

USC Fires Clay Helton: The Right Move For The Trojans And The Pac-12 Present And Future

Two days after another embarrassing defeat, USC dismissed Clay Helton on Monday.

Not because Helton was able to keep his job after so many years of stagnation.

Not because the evidence was weak.

Not because we’re only two weeks into the season.

But because the move was so different from USC as we found out – USC which accepted mediocrity from its blue-blooded football program and handled administrative matters for incompetence.

But athletic director Mike Bohn, on the job for less than two years, isn’t a former USC player who collects paychecks and plays golf and signs autographs and lives forever in 1973.

Bohn is a genuine college sports administrator with real experience in the field, who looks at the landscape and recognizes that this is a moment the Trojans can’t afford to pass up.

And that moment has nothing to do with which coaches may or may not be available when it comes time to pay the fare.

Instant reaction:

— The words in Bohn’s statement were exactly what USC fans want to hear and, clearly, what fans of the event with seven AP national titles and seven Heismans deserve to hear.

“I want to be extraordinarily clear: Our university and its leadership are committed to winning national championships and returning glory to USC football.”

Bohn’s statement also covered their bases, noting that the Trojans had invested immense resources in the football program and were unwilling to see them go to waste:

“The additional resources provided significant growth expectations for our team’s performance, and it is already clear that, despite the increase, those expectations will not be met without a change in leadership.”

USC spent two years renewing the core of the program hoping it would fix the head.

But the program’s biggest flaws – a lack of accountability, discipline and rigor – were never going to change without new leadership.

– It is the third time in the past decade that the Trojans have fired a coach during the season – first Len Kiffin, then Steve Sarkeesian, now Helton.

But this end game could be different. We do not expect Bohn to promote interim head coach Donnett Williams to a permanent position. We didn’t expect Bonn to name a former USC player as the next coach.

It will be a national search, one with deep pockets and willingness to devote whatever resources are necessary to find the right coach. A coach worthy of USC’s tradition.

Maybe it’s Bill O’Brien or Luke Fikel or Matt Campbell or Bob Stoops.

But it will not be any former player or current assistant.

— It’s impossible to see Bonn and President Carol Fault move forward conclusively without considering that the Trojans wasted three years with Helton.

At the end of the 2018 season — after the Trojans went 5-7 and it was clear to anyone with a football savvy that Helton might never remake USC at USC — athletic director Lynn Swann announced his infamous outpouring of support. Statement issued.

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From there, it’s been Groundhog Clay, with Helton in the hot seat for the next year in some way, shape or form.

and for what?

Sure, the Trojans won the South last season; They stumbled and recovered on the way to recruitment; But the on-field product is essentially the same.

Three years, wasted.

All that potential, wasted.

This move is bad for the Pac-12 teams and good for the Pac-12.

Bad for teams because the Trojans can hire just one coach who maximizes the program’s potential, dominating the recruiting trail and ruining the conference—essentially, Pete Carroll II.

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Good for the Pac-12 because the conference needs USC to thrive just as UCLA basketball needs it to thrive.

If the Trojans are elite, this elevates the Pac-12 in a way that isn’t being the Oregon elite or the Washington elite.

– Judgment cannot be evaluated in the present or recent void, where a former dynasty, battered and doomed, is finally out of patience.

It is also about the future.

And what’s coming around the turn?

The only Pac-12 galvanizing behind the new commissioner, George Klewkopf.

and alliances with the Big Ten and ACC.

and the extension of the college football playoffs.

and the media rights talks of the Pac-12.

and the possibility of additional restructuring.

And the reorganization of the NCAA, perhaps with the Power Five eventually breaking into two tiers and the top brands form a mini-NFL.

they are Huge issues.

USC Fires Clay Helton: The Right Move For The Trojans And The Pac-12 Present And Future
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