With the University of Southern California’s defense slashed, their offense stagnating and their discipline lacking – the kicker was thrown on the opening kick – fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum showered the team with boos during a 42-28 puff through the hands of Stanford who entered the game on Saturday as an underdog with 17 points.
After that, Clay Helton, the seventh-year coach, pleaded for calm.
“See where we stand at the end of the season,” he told reporters.
Wherever the Trojans are at the end of the season, Helton won’t see it. He was fired Monday amid mounting anger from the school’s alumni and former players for whom Saturday was not just a bad game but further confirmation that Helton’s football program would never be a contender for a national title.
In fact, when announcing a national search for a new coach, Sporting Director Mike Bohn said in a statement that the Trojans would be better off for the remainder of the season with Donte Williams, a 39-year-old cornerback coach who had never acted before as a coordinator, as an interim head coach.
Bohn that replaces Lynn Swann as the Sporting Director said two years ago that despite the allocation of resources to the football program since his arrival, even after two games – a win over San Jose and a loss to Stanford – it was clear that the USC was far from becoming a national championship would contender. “It is already clear that despite the improvements, these expectations could not be met without a change in leadership,” he said.
If Helton’s dismissal came as a shock this early in the season, it’s a must-see for the Trojans who pretty much got it History of bloodletting with soccer coaches.
Lane Kiffin was fired at the airport after being called off the team bus on his return to Los Angeles after a defeat in the state of Arizona. Steve Sarkisian Checked into rehab after being fired mid-season after repeated discharges Show up drunk. And years ago, John Robinson returned home from Christmas shopping and found a message on his answering machine that he had been canceled.
That decision could have been made much sooner, however, but for the whopping six-year contract extension, Helton was awarded Swann’s contract ahead of the 2018 season – one that is expected to grossed him nearly $ 5 million this season and runs for two more years.
The Trojans, carried to the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl by quarterback Sam Darnold for Helton’s first two full seasons, have gone 19-14 since signing the new contract. In last year’s season shortened by the pandemic, the Trojans won their five conference games, but their hopes of sneaking into the college football playoffs vanished when they were upset in Oregon’s Pac-12 championship game on their home field.
Helton never got a foothold among USC fans who were confused that former sporting director Pat Haden – who, like his successor Swann, was a star football player at the school – promoted Helton to interim coach after Sarkisian’s dismissal and then the permanent job . Haden had previously given up another interim coach and decided not to keep Ed Orgeron, who had led the state of Louisiana to a national championship two years ago.
Helton’s coaching staff was a revolving door, and every August it seemed to promise a more disciplined team. But even a rousing comeback win over conference rivals UCLA last year was marred by Trojans taunting their rivals after the game ended – Helton tumbled onto the lawn trying to pull his players away.
The scene was a picture of a coach who was out of control of his team.
The cost of firing Helton will be substantial, presumably in the neighborhood of $ 15 million (the terms of his contract are not public as USC is a private school). But with a $ 315 million renovation of the Colosseum, part of which had to be paid for through ticket sales, a significant financial blow from the pandemic, and falling visitor numbers, doing nothing came at a cost.
On Monday, USC decided it was too much to take.