The Impact of Clay Helton’s Firing on USC, College Football

The Impact of Clay Helton’s Firing on USC, College Football

by September 14, 2021 0 comments

The college football world was abuzz yesterday after USC fired head coach Clay Helton. This was a move that was expected for quite some time but not exactly at this moment. Trojan fans have been out on Helton for a while now. Sure, he’s a great recruiter, but with all that talent, Helton has failed to really do anything with it. After losing to a pretty bad Stanford team on Saturday, administrators thought it was time and Helton is now out. Now, let’s take a deeper dive into what this firing means for the program and college football. 

How Did We Get Here?

Helton’s USC career comes to a close with a 46-24 record. He won two bowl games and appeared in two New Year’s Six Bowls. Helton also had one conference championship to his ledger in the 6.5 years coaching here. Troubles started for Helton mostly in 2018. Not coincidentally, this was the year that he had pretty much his own team, with no players from the past head coach’s generation. The 2018 team went 5-7 and then followed it up in the next year by going 8-5. At this point, fans were already clamoring for Helton’s job but USC did not let him go.

In 2020, the Trojans were the Pac 12 favorite and made the conference championship game. In this game, they would face Oregon who actually finished second in their division, easy win right? Well, no. USC lost in a game that they should’ve easily won and by then it seemed enough was enough. However, Helton kept his job for one more offseason until now, where this loss to Stanford was the final straw. 

Impact Outside of USC

Looking at the greater landscape of this hiring. This is a really concerning time for the Pac 12. One of their most historic programs has been sort of on the rise for years and now it looks as if they’re going right back in the gutter. Teams like UCLA will now be the favorite in the Southern Division, while in the North, Oregon, Washington, and the other classic competitors have one less team to worry about in the conference championship game. The firing doesn’t have massive implications on the rest of college football, except for one factor which we will get into next. 

Impact on USC

Obviously, it’s hard to get back from firing a coach two games into the season. USC will probably not have a good year this year and on an even bigger note, it already seems some of their highly touted recruits are headed towards decommitment. Some names involve five and four-star cornerbacks Domani Jackson and Jaeden Gould. There are also questions about five-star defensive tackle Mykel Williams. Now, there will always be negative recruiting impacts with a new head coach but USC could really be hit hard. On the field, we’ll see if the new interim head coach, Donte Williams, can get actually get this team’s incredible talent to actually produce. Overall, however, the clouds are getting darker for this program who has a ton of digging to do out of this hole.


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