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.
Clay Helton said tonight that offensive guard Damien Mama did not start against UCLA because of a team rules violation. Chris Brown started in his place but Mama also played. Center Khaliel Rodgers, who suffered a high-ankle sprain, is questionable for the Stanford game.
Helton on reaching the Pac-12 championship game: “It’s something we can’t be satisfied with as a team.”
Helton on if he wants to be a head coach at USC or somewhere else next year: “My goal is to beat Stanford. I’ve got blinders on for Stanford. I want to be the head coach at USC as long as possible.”
The announced attendance of 83,602 was the smallest crowd for a USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum since 1980 (83,491), which was the final Crosstown Rivalry at the Coliseum where the Bruins were the home team (a 20-17 UCLA victory).
It was the smallest USC-UCLA crowd at the Coliseum when USC was the home team since 1975 (80,927), a 25-22 UCLA win. Since 2007, the sixth consecutive USC/UCLA sellout, there has been only one sellout in the series, the Trojans’ 50-0 victory the Bruins at the Coliseum four years ago.