Did the USC Trojans Do the Right Thing By Hiring Clay Helton?

An 8-6 won/loss record for the USC Trojans is never acceptable.

They have had 7 Heisman Trophy winners. They claim to have won 11 national championships in football.

They have had 12 guys to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Trojans have had more first round draft picks than anyone and they have had more players drafted by NFL teams than any other school.

8-6 is not acceptable for a school with the rich tradition of greatness as USC.

For the 2015 season, the Trojans were coming off a 9-4 season and hopes were sky high. After the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin, they hired Washington Husky coach Steve Sarkisian. Many people were less than impressed, but Sarkisian recruited well. He didn’t recruit as well as Pete Carroll, but he brought in a ton of talent.

The Trojans fired Sarkisian after several incidents involving alcohol, and they had fired Kiffin right in the middle of the season as well. After firing Sarkisian, Clay Helton was promoted to interim head coach.

The Trojans were 3-2 after a surprising and ugly loss to the Washington Huskies. USC Athletic Director Pat Haden fired Sarkisian then and Helton was moved up just in time to face long time rival Notre Dame.

The Trojans hung there and played hard before losing 31-41. After Helton was promoted, he led the team to a 5-4 record. They did win the Pac 12 South. But, let’s be honest and say that the Pac 12 South was very bad last season. UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona and USC all had disappointing seasons just when the national talk was of the Pac 12 improving.

After the season ended, the Trojans named Clay Helton their new head coach and removed the interim tag. He was a very popular choice for the players. They gave him a standing ovation and seemed to be extremely elated with the selection.

When hired, Helton did make a few changes. Probably the biggest change he made was with his

Defensive Coordinator. Unpopular Justin Wilcox was gone and popular Clancy Pendergast was his replacement.

Pendergast was the Trojans’ Defensive Coordinator in 2013 and was not retained by Steve Sarkisian. USC had one of the top defenses in the country in 2013, and one of the worst in 2014. They were ranked 65th in the country in 2015, which was far from dominating.

Pendergast has plenty of college experience and also NFL. He knows the game and he runs a differnt type of defense than most Coordinators in something of a 5-2 front.

Recruiting? Helton’s first recruiting class was ranked 11th by ESPN which was did not show total supremacy, but it was a good class that could help the team quickly.

Talent won’t be the problem for the Trojans.

When Sarkisian was fired, there was so much discussion of the possible replacements and the USC job would be one of the better ones in the country.

So, did the USC Trojans do the right thing by hiring Clay Helton?

Time will tell, but the 5-4 record for the remainder of the 2015 season did not create goose bumps for anyone. Helton was not the hire that made Trojan fans jump up and down and yell at the top of their lungs.

But, they weren’t exactly doing back flips when Pete Carroll was hired, either.

Time will definitely tell, but the one thing that Trojan fans should be excited about was the hiring of Pendergast.

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