USC AD says Clay Helton's job is safe after 11-2 season and Pac-12 title

Southern California coach Clay Helton, center, gestures while being interviewed after his team defeated Stanford 31-28 in the Pac-12 Conference championship in Friday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

USC athletic director Lynn Swann felt compelled to give coach Clay Helton a vote of confidence after the Trojans capped an 11-2 season with a Pac-12 title on Friday night.

USC beat Stanford 31-28 to win the conference title and get a likely bid to the Fiesta Bowl. The Trojans have little hope of making the College Football Playoff, but with losses to Notre Dame and Washington State (on a Friday night with a depleted team), it’s impossible not to consider USC’s season a success.

But apparently, Helton needed that vote of confidence anyway. From the Orange County Register:

“We’ve got a head coach we’re going to keep,” Swann said after the game.

Frankly, we’re a bit shocked that we’re even having to consider that Helton’s status was close to being in jeopardy for anything more than a nanosecond. But given the craziness that’s taken over the college football world over the past week, we also know better than to be surprised at anything. So perhaps the shock is misguided.

According to the Register, “multiple sources reported during the season that Swann was unhappy with Helton but knew it was not possible to make a change when USC is 11-2.”

What if USC had lost the Pac-12 title and its bowl game? To save ourselves — and you — some frustration, we aren’t even going to go down that rabbit hole.

The Register also leaves open the possibility there could be some staff changes under Helton. USC’s defense ranks No. 79 in the country in total defense, allowing nearly 405 yards a game and 5.6 yards per play. The Trojans rank 60th in scoring defense, allowing more than 26 points per game. Those numbers are slightly worse than last year, though the 2016 USC defense gave up more yards per play (5.7).

But anyway, Helton is the team’s coach. Now, and for 2018. As he should be. Since taking over for Steve Sarkisian in 2015, Helton has a 26-9 record and has gone 21-5 over the past two seasons.

That’s really good, even if USC fans are taking notice of UCLA and shiny new coach Chip Kelly. Helton’s doing more than fine. And Swann hopefully realizes that.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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