The Clay Helton era in Southern Cal passed away with a whimper.
Trojans athletic director Mike Bohn informed football head coach on Monday that he was out after USC opened the Pac-12 Conference game of its season with a 42-28 loss to his rival Stanford. USC opened its season by beating San Jose State 30-7.
“This season is just beginning, and we have the opportunity to do something special with this team and this program,” Bohn wrote in a statement announcing his decision.
Bohn has appointed associate head coach Donte Williams, in his second year on the USC staff, as interim coach.
“Clay is one of the best human beings I’ve met in this industry, and he’s been a tremendous role model and mentor to our young men,” wrote Bohn, who arrived from Cincinnati in 2019.
He now has the chance to choose his own coach to lead the football program.
Before receiving the full-time job in 2015, Helton was an interim coach twice – once after interim coach Ed Orgeron resigned and another after Steve Sarkisian took a leave of absence.
USC, under former athletic director Pat Haden, removed the interim tag at the end of the 2015 regular season. Helton went 46-24 at USC, highlighted by a win at the Rose Bowl to cap off the 2016 season. The Trojans’ best year under Helton came the following season, when they went 11-3, won the Pac-12 and ultimately lost in the Cotton Bowl.
Williams, who recently coached cornerbacks for Oregon (2018-19) and Nebraska (2017), has no experience as a head coach at the FBS level, but has established himself as a premier recruiter. plan, especially in Southern California.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.