Helton will return as USC coach in ’20, AD says

NCAAF

USC coach Clay Helton will return for his fifth season with the Trojans, new athletic director Mike Bohn announced Wednesday.

“I am pleased to let you know Coach Helton will continue to be our head coach,” Bohn tweeted. “His commitment to our student-athletes and to leading with integrity is vital to restoring our championship program, which is the goal for all of our teams.

“Heading into 2020, Coach Helton and I will work together to take a hard look at all aspects of the football enterprise and will make the tough decisions necessary to compete at a championship level.”

The official decision comes 11 days after the Trojans’ final game of the regular season and four days after they were eliminated from contention in the Pac-12 South. The Trojans (8-4 overall, 7-2 Pac-12) will likely play in either the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl.

Last year, former athletic director Lynn Swann released a similar statement after the Trojans finished 5-7, their first losing since 2000. Swann stepped down in September and was replaced by Bohn, who had been the athletic director at Cincinnati since 2014, in November.

The Trojans held a team meeting Wednesday to inform the players of the decision, sources told ESPN.

Helton took over the program as the interim coach in 2015 after Steve Sarkisian was fired. After guiding the team to the Pac-12 championship game that season, he led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl title in 2016 and the Pac-12 title in 2017.

The Trojans are 34-17 in Helton’s four full seasons as coach, including a 26-10 record in Pac-12 play, which is tied with Washington for the best in-conference record during that span.

With Helton on the seemingly perpetual hot seat, USC’s recruiting efforts have taken a major hit.

Traditionally one of the top recruiting schools in the country, USC has just 11 known commitments and only two of them received higher than a three-star grade from ESPN. The class is currently not among ESPN’s top 40.

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