Mind of Mike: Lack of recruiting success, development doomed Helton at USC

The Thoughts of Mike is a scary place. Listed here are my ideas on the firing of USC head coach Clay Helton.

Keep in mind the Pete Carroll days at USC? I certain do they usually had been superb. However since then it’s been disappointment after disappointment save for an remoted season right here or there. It was all the time going to come back to this. Helton by no means slot in fairly proper at USC and, after an embarrassing loss to Stanford on Saturday, the inevitable lastly occurred. Helton is gone and the fan base will get what it needs. The 42-28 loss to the Cardinal was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s again when it got here to his tenure in Los Angeles, and athletic director Mike Bohn did what others have been hesitant to do: He fired a superb man who was over his head at USC.

Even earlier than this season, Helton was on skinny ice with this system, having gone 46-24 with a 36-13 report within the Pac-12 over six-plus seasons main this system. These sorts of numbers merely will not do when you’re purported to be the No. 1 program within the convention by a superb deal. USC is the Pac-12’s Alabama or Ohio State, and so with just one convention title and routine losses to inferior applications, the brass at USC was left with no different choices.

So why wasn’t Helton profitable at USC? It needs to be straightforward for nearly anybody to win there, however in Helton’s case he made just a few essential errors. At the beginning, he did a poor job of hiring succesful assistants round him. He held on to Tee Martin and Clancy Pendergast too lengthy. Todd Orlando has not finished an entire lot in his time there and Graham Harrell nonetheless has but to completely unlock the expertise the Trojans have on the ability positions on offense. They’re nonetheless having hassle blocking anybody with a whiff of a go rush and ability place gamers proceed to underperform.

However finally it was recruiting that did Helton in. Regardless that we have seen the Trojans land their justifiable share of high-level recruits, the misses are large ones. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Bryce Young, Justin Flowe, D.J. Uiagalelei, Henry To’o To’o, Joseph Ngata, Najee Harris, Kendall Milton, Wyatt Davis and others. And people are simply the in-state prospects. Let’s not even speak about guys like Bijan Robinson.

Participant growth has not been there to just about the identical stage because it was in the course of the Pete Carroll period. USC landed 11 five-star prospects between the 2015-20 cycles, and might you actually say that any of them really panned out for them? Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown each was above common receivers, however neither had been true sport breakers. Not one of the linebackers (Porter Gustin, John Houston, Palaie Gaoteote) ever broke by way of in a really significant method to change into upper-echelon gamers. And JT Daniels obtained worse between his freshman and sophomore campaigns, ultimately transferring to Georgia. The shortage of growth goes even past that – Kedon Slovis was unbelievable as a freshman, however made zero discernable enhancements as a sophomore and appears to be the very same quarterback right this moment as a junior as he was throughout his first begin.

The 2020 class was arguably the largest embarrassment of the Helton period, ending No. 71 within the nation behind applications like Tulane, Bowling Inexperienced, FAU and Rutgers. That was when the axe ought to have fallen however right here we are actually.

What’s subsequent for USC? Donte Williams will take over because the interim head coach for the rest of the season, however they’re going to be seeking to make an enormous, splashy rent. Count on the likes of Matt Campbell, James Franklin, Invoice O’Brien, Luke Fickell and others to be on the prime of their checklist. Heck, you’ll be able to even throw in City Meyer as he may flame out in a single season within the NFL. However other than Meyer the largest energy transfer the Trojans may pull off can be to lure Mario Cristobal down from Eugene. Whereas that could be a protracted shot, that is the type of rent it should take to get USC again to the highest of the Pac-12. The problem? USC is a step-down job from Oregon now, one thing Helton has had a terrific deal to do with. However no less than this primary step has lastly been taken. | Thoughts of Mike: Lack of recruiting success, growth doomed Helton at USC


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