Live updates throughout the day Monday, including from the 11 a.m. press conference, after USC named Clay Helton its head football coach.
Clay Helton getting hired is an example of nice guys finishing first. The players love him. I cannot be so kind for Pat Haden, however. He has now had two coaching hires and hired a former USC assistant (Steve Sarkisian) and a current USC assistant (Helton).
Where is his ambition? Is this USC or a junior college? I realize USC’s history shows nearly every coaching hire was a former or current assistant, with a few notable exceptions like Pete Carroll or Larry Smith. But USC can pay a coach $8 million a year. This does not reflect well on the administrative vision of Haden. And I say that as someone who thinks Helton might do a great job.
USC named Clay Helton permanent football coach this morning.
“After weeks of searching the collegiate and pro ranks, interviewing candidates, and speaking with head coaches, athletic directors, NFL executives, and very knowledgeable football people, and after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searching for in a coach was right here in front of us,” said Haden. “Choosing a coach is an inexact science. In Clay’s case, there is exactness. We have a man with unquestioned integrity. He is a fantastic person and he is real. Clay is a leader of young men. He is a terrific communicator. He brings high character, stability, continuity, consistency, toughness and resiliency to our program.
“We have known Clay well for the past six years. He earned this opportunity. He has been positive and upbeat handling adversity. He was built to be a head coach. Football is his family business. He is a coach on the rise and he will be coaching a team on the rise. As our interim head coach, Clay brought back USC’s style of physical football. I have been impressed with how hard and how inspired our team has played for him, as well as the support they have shown for him.”
REACTION: Weeks of searching and interviewing candidates? I’m happy for Clay Helton, a genuine nice guy who deserves an opportunity to be a head coach. But Pat Haden looks like he never wanted to do a real coaching search.
A fresh round of Pat Haden-is-retiring rumors are burning through the athletic dept. this weekend and some people believe an announcement will come this week. Last month, when rumors spread he was retiring at any moment, sources told me it was never the case.
But I feel compelled to mention it when so many people are discussing it at USC. As far as I know, Haden did not attend the UCLA game, making it the sixth straight game he missed.