USC fires Clay Helton, Donte Williams to serve as interim head coach

A day after Clay Helton reiterated his hope that everybody would give him and his workforce the total season earlier than reaching any conclusions, USC athletic director Mike Bohn has as an alternative determined he had seen sufficient and introduced he was parting methods with the Trojans’ embattled head coach.

Donte Williams, USC’s affiliate head coach/cornerbacks coach, will function the interim head coach the remainder of the season.

Per USC’s information launch, Bohn and Helton addressed the workforce collectively Monday afternoon.

“As I dedicated to upon my arrival at USC, through the previous two offseasons we supplied each useful resource vital for our soccer program to compete for championships,” Bohn mentioned in an announcement he posted to Twitter. “The added assets carried considerably elevated expectations for our workforce’s efficiency, and it’s already evident that, regardless of the enhancements, these expectations wouldn’t be met and not using a change in management.

“This season is simply getting began, and now we have the chance to essentially do one thing particular with this workforce and this program. I am assured that as our interim head coach Donte Williams provides us the next likelihood for fulfillment the rest of the season.”

RELATED: Donte Williams makes first comments as USC interim head coach

USC entered final Saturday night time’s sport vs. Stanford as 17-point favorites however was dominated by the Cardinal, trailing by 29 factors within the fourth quarter earlier than in the end dropping 42-28.

For a lot of Trojans followers, it was a continuation of the themes which have pissed off them a lot throughout Helton’s tenure — the workforce popping out flat in a sport it was imagined to win, the shortage of self-discipline (9 penalties for 111 yards), being out-coached and out-schemed, and so forth.

Followers booed the workforce and its coach within the Coliseum, well-known Trojans alums like Keyshawn Johnson and Matt Leinart took to Twitter to precise their frustration, and the Los Angeles Occasions ran not one however two columns calling for USC to fireplace Helton.

USC had Helton do his regularly-scheduled Zoom name with reporters Sunday night time, by which he reiterated his hope for persistence from the followers. In the end, it was the Trojans athletics management that determined it could not give him that.

“I hope that folks will see us right through the season and see our complete product and our complete resume on the finish of the yr. … We’ll see the place we’re on the finish of the yr. And I consider we will be blissful at the moment. I am upset proper now, however I consider we’ll be blissful on the finish of the yr,” Helton had mentioned.

Bohn is hoping that can nonetheless be the result — it simply will not be with Helton.

“Clay is among the best human beings I’ve met on this trade, and he has been an incredible function mannequin and mentor to our younger males,” Bohn mentioned in his assertion. “We admire his a few years of service to our college and want him nothing however the perfect. According to our values as an establishment, he deserves the utmost respect from the Trojan Household throughout this transition. …

“I need to be exceptionally clear: our college and its management are dedicated to profitable nationwide championships and restoring USC soccer to glory. This choice represents our subsequent step towards that purpose in what has been a considerate and strategic course of to construct a complete soccer group equal to the premier applications within the trendy panorama.”

Helton went 46-24 as USC’s head coach, together with two stints as interim head coach. He took over the workforce 5 video games into the 2015 season when USC parted methods with Steve Sarkisian and had the interim title eliminated after that marketing campaign.

Many followers had been sad with that alternative from the beginning, as Helton had solely been an offensive coordinator at Memphis (and for just a few months at Arkansas State) earlier than becoming a member of USC in 2010 as QBs coach and dealing his method as much as OC in 2013. The preliminary doubt and pushback on his promotion to go coach set the tone for the sentiment Helton would battle all through his Trojans tenure.

After going 10-3 with a Rose Bowl victory in his first full season and 11-3 with a Pac-12 championship the subsequent yr, the trajectory of this system modified sharply.

Truthful or not, many felt star quarterback Sam Darnold had masked others points inside the program and carried the Trojans to the successes of 2016-17.

The critics had been emboldened when USC went 5-7 in 2018 — this system’s worst document since 2000, which was the ultimate yr earlier than Pete Carroll took over and delivered Trojans soccer again to the head of school soccer.

This system has been chasing these heights ever since, and doubts would solely proceed to develop that Helton might ever get USC to that degree.

Throughout that 2018 season, followers employed a airplane to fly over the Coliseum on a sport day with a banner imploring former athletic director Lynn Swann to exchange Helton, whom he had simply given a contract extension in February of that yr that runs via the 2023 season.

In keeping with a federal tax return filed by the college and obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Helton earned greater than $4.5 million from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, up from $3.2 million the earlier fiscal yr.

That hefty contract extension stored Helton in place, and the Trojans improved to a middling 8-5 the subsequent yr however bought beat handily within the Vacation Bowl to Iowa, 49-24, and completed tied for 71st within the Rivals recruiting rankings — final within the Pac-12 and this system’s worst-ever end.

It was a surprising nadir for a program had by no means completed worse than 18th within the Rivals recruiting rankings — in that previous 2019 class — and earlier than that had by no means ended decrease than thirteenth. Once more, hypothesis spiked on the finish of that 2019 common season that the Helton Period might be coming to an finish. USC had employed a brand new athletic director in Bohn that November after Swann was let go in September.

Bohn and senior affiliate AD Brandon Sosna went to work investing within the infrastructure of the soccer program, greater than doubling the scale of the recruiting division and including to the soccer help employees.

The defensive employees was modified out after that 2019 season, similar to many of the offensive employees had been changed after the 2018 marketing campaign. After the 2020 season, extra modifications got here with the hiring of a brand new offensive line coach and new power and conditioning coach.

In the end, it did not matter what number of elements had been modified or what was constructed up round Helton, the followers’ frustration stored mounting as this system didn’t seem like on a championship course.

Whereas USC went 5-1 through the pandemic-shortened season final yr, it wanted three wild comebacks to get to that time after which misplaced fairly convincingly to Oregon within the Pac-12 championship sport. When the Trojans went down 14-0 and 21-7 in that sport, dedicated three turnovers, racked up 9 penalties for 98 yards and appeared overmatched by an unranked Oregon workforce, it felt all too acquainted to so many different massive video games by which USC struggled underneath Helton.

Identical to the Stanford sport on Saturday night time.

Since that Pac-12 title in 2017, Helton’s program was simply 5-12 towards groups that completed the respective season with a profitable document (not counting the 2 video games this yr, because it’s unknown how San Jose State and Stanford will end record-wise).

There was optimism getting into this season, however the loss to Stanford on Saturday night time amplified the Helton frustration again to its zenith as followers booed the workforce within the Coliseum and stuffed up message boards and social media demanding change.

In the end, Bohn agreed with them.

“Over the subsequent few months we’ll conduct a nationwide seek for our new head coach. We’ll actively and patiently pursue a coach who will ship on the championship aspirations and expectations all of us share for our soccer program,” Bohn mentioned. “With our storied historical past, our gifted younger roster and the most important investments we have made within the infrastructure of our soccer group, I am optimistic that we’re higher positioned proper now than now we have been at some other time prior to now decade to recruit the very best and proper chief for us.”

Within the meantime, it is as much as Williams to steer the ship.

Williams, in his second season at USC, is the Trojans’ prime recruiter and will likely be key to preserving this present recruiting class, which options two five-star commits in cornerback Domani Jackson and defensive finish Mykel Williams, in place.

“Donte is an skilled and well-respected coach who’s famend for his capacity to develop relationships with student-athletes, and I admire his willingness to tackle this problem,” Bohn mentioned. “We nonetheless have management of our personal future within the Pac-12 Convention, a tremendously gifted group of student-athletes, and full religion within the phenomenal assistant coaches and excellent help employees within the John McKay Heart.”

**Discuss on Trojan Talk** | USC fires Clay Helton, Donte Williams to function interim head coach


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