San Francisco Chronicle
Listless USC fires head coach Helton
Move comes after loss to Stanford, struggling in win over San Jose St.
After years of frustration and unfulfilled promise over its underachieving football program, USC fired head coach Clay Helton on Monday.
In a message posted to Twitter, USC athletic director Mike Bohn announced his decision to “make a change in the leadership of our football program” and thanked Helton.
Associate head coach Donte Williams is set to serve as interim head coach.
The decision to fire Helton comes in the wake of a 42-28 loss to Stanford on Saturday at the Coliseum, one of the worst defeats in memory for the Trojans. The change came barely a week after USC struggled before beating San Jose State 30-7 in the opener and followed tumultuous seasons. Fan discontent has soared.
Helton finished with a 46-24 record, but 19-15 since 2018.
USC’s performance and swelling displeasure among boosters apparently outweighed concerns that came with paying a hefty buyout in the midst of a financial crisis caused by the pandemic.
That price tag, which has been difficult to pin down because USC is a private school not required to release contracts in response to public records requests, was believed to be a factor in Bohn’s previous decisions to retain Helton. Injury list: Among players suffering season-ending injuries were running back Don Chaney Jr. (knee) of No. 24 Miami, Virginia Tech tight end James Mitchell (knee surgery), N.C. State linebacker Payton Wilson and safety Cyrus Fagan (both unspecified). Players out several weeks include Oregon freshman linebacker Justin Flowe (right foot), Purdue running back Zander Horvath (broken fibula), Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King (broken right tibia), Miami linebacker Keontra Smith (leg), Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson (knee) and Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec (hand).
Game times set: Stanford, Cal and San Jose State announced the kickoff times for their Sept. 25 games. The Cardinal’s home opener against No. 13 UCLA is set for a 3 p.m. start. Pac-12 Network will carry that matchup and the Cal-Washington matchup in Seattle that will begin at 6:30 p.m. The Spartans’ game at Western Michigan will start at 11 a.m. PDT.
— Steve Kroner
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