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USC fires Clay Helton

The move comes two days after USC's first loss of the season.

USC has fired head coach Clay Helton, AD Mike Bohn announced on Monday. Cornerbacks coach Donte Williams has been named interim head coach for the Trojans' final 10 regular season games, beginning Saturday at Washington State. 

The move comes two days after the then 14th-ranked Trojans lost, 42-28, at home to Stanford.

Bohn announced the decision through a lengthy statement.

Statement 1
Statement 2

Named USC's interim head coach in 2013 and 2015, Helton has been with the program continuously since 2010. A well-liked man, Pat Haden named Helton USC's full-time head coach after a 5-2 start in 2015, when he took over following Steve Sarkisian's mid-season firing; the Trojans would then lose their final two games of that season. 

The 2016 and 2017 seasons would see the Trojans win the Rose Bowl, finish No. 3 in the AP poll, and win their first (and only) Pac-12 title post-Pete Carroll. Those seasons did not win the fan base's approval, and so turmoil in the AD chair allowed him to ride out a 5-7 season in 2017 and an 8-5 mark in 2018. 

With Mike Bohn fully installed as USC's head coach for the 2020 season, Helton went 5-0 in the regular season but dropped the Pac-12 Championship to Oregon (the Trojans did not play in a bowl game.) 

And now, one loss into the season, he's out.

So obvious was Helton's hot seat that when the official USC football account wished Helton a happy birthday on Twitter back in June, it restricted replies to the post.

"We’ll come back out and we’ll get it, we’ll continue to get wins and add them up and we’ll see where we are at the end of the season," Helton said after Saturday night's loss. "I know it’ll be a successful season at the end. Like I told them in the locker room, you never want this to happen, ever. But when it’s an early one in the season, you can live through it, but you’ve got to correct it extremely fast.”

Little did he know at the time, the time for corrections had already past.