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College stunner: USC fires Helton

Two games into the 2021 season, USC has fired head coach Clay Helton, with AD Mike Bohn saying a national search will commence.

Another one down.

Less than 10 days fully into the college football season, a second Football Bowls Subdivision program is making a change at the top – and this time it's one of the sport's all-time royalty programs.

The University of Southern California has dismissed head coach Clay Helton and named Donte Williams as the interim, USC athletics director Mike Bohn announced Monday afternoon.

“This afternoon I informed Clay Helton of my decision to make a change in the leadership of our football program,” Bohn said in a statement he released on Twitter. “Clay is one of the finest human beings I have met in this industry, and he has been a tremendous role model and mentor to our young men.

“We appreciate his many years of service to our university and wish him nothing but the very best. Consistent with our values as an institution, he deserves the utmost respect from the Trojan Family during this transition.”

Helton long has been regarded as one of the sport's absolute nice guys, but his tenure atop the Men of Troy has been, at best, uneven.

That was punctuated Saturday night in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, when the Trojans were embarrassed at home by rival Stanford – just a week after Stanford had been shellacked on the road at Kansas State.

Williams, who had been serving as USC's cornerbacks coach, was just hired onto Helton's staff a year ago after Williams had spent a pair of seasons at Oregon.

The Trojans returned numerous key starters, particularly on an offense led by quarterback Kedon Slovis.

But they trailed the Cardinal 42-13 late before adding on a pair of touchdowns.

Helton won 21 combined games in the 2016-17 seasons, but he never found consistent success. The Trojans have lost 14 games since the start of the 2018 season.

“I want to be exceptionally clear: our university and its leadership are committed to winning national championships and restoring USC football to its glory,” Bohn said. “This decision represents our next step toward that goal in what has been a thoughtful and strategic process to build a comprehensive football organization equivalent to the premier programs in the modern landscape.”

Bohn said USC will conduct “a national search” for our new head” and “pursue a coach who will deliver on the championship aspirations and expectations we all share for our football program.”

Helton finishes his USC tenure 46-24 ledger, and a Rose Bowl win.

Last week after a loss to FCS Holy Cross, Randy Edsall announced he would step down at season's end from the UConn program. A day later, Edsall's tenure was finished.