USC Trojans mourn by Helton’s “painful” firing

Los Angeles – Clay Helton players hate the fact that head coach firing has caused many of Southern California’s vast football fan base to celebrate.

When those players returned to work on Tuesday night, Helton’s sudden departure was a cause of mourning and remorse — and a new determination to be proud of him.

“It certainly hurts,” said veteran safety Isaiah Paula Mao. “The coach has always had a big impact on me. I signed here with him in mind. We wanted him to be the next Pete Carroll. We lifted him up. He wanted to be great. Of course, things don’t go well. “

At the high-pressure levels of college football in which USC lives, it’s easy to forget that the vast majority of Helton players clearly don’t share the deep hatred of coaches that almost every vocal fan of a Trojan horse seems to have. ..


Thousands of people chanted a shot at Helton’s Coliseum when the USC suffered an embarrassing defeat at Stanford last Saturday night. Many of those same people welcomed athletic director Mike Bourne’s decision with online delight on Monday — and the player saw it.

Many who interact with Helton on campus and in the changing rooms still respect him as a mentor and as the father of his players. Many of those players have not yet dealt with the fact that they have to continue a long season without a coach who has hired them and accepted the responsibility to promote their growth into a balanced adult.

“It was heartbreaking for many of us,” said recipient Drake London. “He’s a very good person for us, both inside and outside the field. It was sad to see him go.”

The day after Helton’s seven-season tenure ended with his firing, the Trojan (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12) held the usual opening practice for Game Week on campus. USC will visit Washington State for the opening round with Donte Williams as interim head coach on Saturday.


After practice, the USC allowed only three team captains to speak to reporters, but both Bohn and Williams elaborated on future challenges after changing leadership by only two games per season.

“For young people, sudden changes are very difficult, and for all of us, very difficult. I have great respect for Clay Helton as a coach and as a man.”

Helton and Bourne jointly shared the news with the team on Monday. Bourne said Williams would run the Trojan with his holistic motivational skills and handle most of the game’s plans as coordinators Graham Harrell and Todd Orlando did under Helton.

“It happened pretty early,” said Panther Ben Griffith. “But I’m glad I had that time …. We understand as players and we have work to do. That’s the end of the season.”

Bonn did not reveal anything new about the reason for the unusual timing of his decision against Helton, who won nine consecutive regular season games before the Stanford University explosion.


“It really felt like the right time, and I think it was the right time for (Helton),” Bohn said. “I have the feeling and intuition that I know when to play things in a particular way. I think we had the right one.”

However, USC actions reveal that the school was tired of waiting for Helton’s field success to catch up with his team-building skills. The program, which I believe should be an annual national title candidate, eventually moved from a coach who had never reached it.

Helton’s record was 46-24. This was also a fairly solid result in the regular program, but there was also a season in 2018 when I lost at school for the first time in 18 years. He won one Rose Bowl and one conference title in six attempts, not two. More Pac-12 Crowns in the conference title game.

Trojan horse improvements over the last decade include the construction of a $ 70 million headquarters at the John McKay Center and a $ 315 million improvement over the Coliseum 98 years ago. USC has expanded its recruitment resources and research capabilities, giving Helton a chance to succeed, and has put in place a strong system to attract successors in the event of Helton’s disappearance.


“We had a great offseason and made great hires and ongoing investments in football companies,” said Bohn. “In the end, when we really came out, I think we had the same belief that with all the resources and all the commitments we gathered, we could really aim for those national championship aspirations. No. We always talk. “


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USC Trojans mourn by Helton’s “painful” firing

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