On Monday, USC announced the hiring of Clay Helton on a multi-year contract after he led the Trojans to a 5-2 mark as an interim coach.
The announcement was made official by Athletic Director Pat Haden, who revealed that Helton had signed a guaranteed five-year contract. Earlier that day, sources claimed that Helton would receive a three-year deal with incentives with an option of two more years if he managed to attain certain goals.
However, the team has decided to tie down the shrewd tactician to a long-term deal, confident that he will get the job done after showing his potential while filling the role in an interim position.
“After weeks of searching the collegiate and pro ranks, interviewing candidates, and speaking with head coaches, athletic directors, NFL executives, and very knowledgeable football people, and after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searching for in a coach was right here in front of us,” Haden said in a statement.
“Choosing a coach is an inexact science. In Clay’s case, there is exactness. We have a man with unquestioned integrity. He is a fantastic person and he is real. Clay is a leader of young men. He is a terrific communicator. He brings high character, stability, continuity, consistency, toughness and resiliency to our program.”
Initially, there were reports claiming that the Trojans might even opt for Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly. However, Haden revealed that he never approached Kelly, and neither did the school speak with him about the job opening. However, school officials did negotiate with the representative of FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, along with several NFL coaches and assistants.
It seems that the Trojans were really laying down an extensive net in order to search for the right man for the job. In the end, however, they decided to opt for Clay Helton after finding out that Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson might not be able to work for the team properly.
The Trojans beat UCLA 40-21 this Saturday to win the Pac-12 South and nailed down a spot in the conference title game against Stanford.
43-year-old Helton has been an assistant with USC since 2010 and was given the coaching responsibilities on an interim basis after Steve Sarkisian was shown the door back in October. He had a similar role after Ed Orgeron parted ways with the team just before the Las Vegas Bowl in 2013. And while former coach Tommy West was dealing with health issues in 2006, he led Memphis for almost the entire offseason.
Now that he has been given his dream job after a long wait, Helton is very happy and wants to lead the team to further glory under his guidance.
“I am extremely humbled,” Helton said in a statement. “During my six years here, I have learned the standard of excellence that it takes to be a Trojan. I understand the expectations of this great university and welcome the challenge. I am so proud to have the chance to lead what I feel is the pinnacle of college football and to represent our Trojan family.”