Clay Helton on Monday was appointed as permanent head coach of the USC Trojans after he signed a multiyear contract, athletic director Pat Haden announced via a school release.
Helton was rewarded for his performance as interim coach, having led Trojans to a 5-2 record this season. “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,” Haden said in a statement issued on Monday, acknowledging that Helton was the right choice.
According to ESPN, Helton has signed a three-year deal with incentives for a two-year option if he attained set goals. “Choosing a coach is an inexact science. In Clay’s (Helton) 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,” continued Haden.
According to Yahoo Sports, Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles coach, reportedly met USC about the opening. However, both Kelly and Haden shot down those rumors. Haden did acknowledge that the team discussed the job with Greg Schiano, the former Rutgers coach.
Helton, 43, assistant coach of USC since 2010, assumed interim coach duties after USC fired Steve Sarkisian in October. “I am extremely humbled,” the new USC coach said in a statement. “During my six years here, I have learned the standard of excellence that it takes to be a Trojan. I understand the expectations of this great university and welcome the challenge. I am so proud to have the chance to lead what I feel is the pinnacle of college football and to represent our Trojan family.”
This will be Helton’s first full-time coaching assignment. “I’ve had the great experience and fortune to be a part of this special place for six years,” said the lifelong Southerner. “In that time, I have learned about the tradition of excellence that USC has, both on and off the field. I totally understand the high bar of excellence and expectations that come with the job. I welcome them with open arms, because as a coach, I expect them of myself.”