USC head coach Clay Helton entered the season attempting to do something of a high-wire act to save his job. After two solid full seasons to begin his tenure as head coach, with 21 wins and Rose and Cotton Bowl trips, things fell apart in 2018.
The Trojans finished 5-7 last year. As a result, much of the off-season was spent speculating when, and not if, USC would move on from Helton.
Names like Urban Meyer and James Franklin have been named as potential big-name replacements, though there is no real telling whether Meyer would actually step out of retirement, or a coach like Franklin would leave a good situation.
USC started 2-0, pulling out a very tight game against Fresno State and blowing out Stanford, which helped a bit. However, this week athletic director Lynn Swann stepped down, kicking Helton job speculation into high gear.
A new athletic director at a job as prestigious as USC will want his own guy in place. Moments ago, Helton suffered his first big loss of the year, falling in overtime to BYU. Many of his coaching decisions were called into question during the game, and after kicking a field goal to start, the Cougars intercepted freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis to end the game.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) September 14, 2019
That loss may not be the lone thing to do in Helton, but there is little reason to think he’s going to find 10 wins out there this year. A new AD will have plenty of support to move on from him.
USC loses at BYU, 30-27. Clay Helton lost his AD earlier this week. This is the latest step toward him losing his job. A new AD simply can’t arrive there and think he’s the guy to lead them to a national title.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) September 14, 2019
Clay Helton is 34-18 (25-10 Pac-12) as USC head coach, with a Rose Bowl win and a No. 3 finish in the AP poll. That is plenty good for many programs, but expectations for the USC Trojans are much, much higher, and 5-7 seasons are not tolerated.