If you hadn’t heard by now, USC has itself a full-time head football coach.
No longer is Clay Helton a two-time interim head coach for the Trojans. The USC brass made the move Monday morning to make things official.
The decision was met with a wide range of responses -- some good, some not so much. Here’s a sampling of some of the national reaction.
In his Three-Point Stance, ESPN.com’s Ivain Maisel says this was the time, before the Pac-12 championship game, to make the move.
The timing of USC athletic director Pat Haden’s decision to remove the interim from head coach Clay Helton is shrewd. It’s better to name him now, on the wave of emotion after winning the Pac-12 South, than to wait and see how the conference championship game comes out. Helton has brought a sense of calm to the Trojans after the tumult of the Kiffin/Sarkisian years.
Pat Forde of Yahoo disagrees. In so many words, Forde says the Trojans should have looked outside the USC family.
… It’s a big world out there, filled with lots of smart football coaches who likely would love a shot at a Cadillac program like USC’s. The school’s continued reliance upon the same small pool of guys connected to the school is amazing and a little unsettling.
Bruce Fedlman of Fox Sports says that for all the ups and downs the Trojans have gone through in the last few years (and if you need a refresher, I put together a timeline back in October) Helton should provide some stability.
Obviously, it remains to be seen if Helton will prove to be the answer for a program that has had a ridiculous amount of turbulence since Pete Carroll left for the NFL. One thing that I do buy from Haden’s comments is that the stable Helton is the right man at the right time.
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times has been an advocate for Helton. He says the move will define Pat Haden as much as it will Helton.
Helton does not possess one ounce of Showtime, but he is pure Fight On, and in hiring him, the Trojans smartly recommitted themselves to the motto's essence ... Whatever happens, Pat Haden will forever be linked with Clay Helton in Trojans history. Here's guessing it will turn out well for both of them. But fair or not, one of them will be taking a much bigger hit if it doesn't.
Finally, Sports Illustrated’s Lindsay Schnell says the Trojans got it right with this hire because Helton won’t bring an off-the-field spotlight the way the last two coaches did.
What USC, a program rich in tradition and talent, needs most is an adult. The Trojans have been in the spotlight way too much the last few seasons for way too many off-field incidents, from the firing of former coach Lane Kiffin at an airport (a move that eventually led to Helton acting as interim coach in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl) to the recent firing of Steve Sarkisian, who had a drinking problem that got out of control.