Can Helton Possibly Survive?

The Monday Morning Quarterback luncheon, which cost attendees at least $50 and was live-streamed for other donors online, was the first of five scheduled lunch appearances for Helton, who was expected to offer “special insight” into the program and the previous game.

But as Helton stood in front of the crowd, smiling and answering questions, one key bit of insight about USC’s athletic department was left unmentioned. Just an hour or so earlier, Lynn Swann, USC’s embattled athletic director, had abruptly resigned.

That decision, which The Times reported just before 1 p.m. on Monday, sent shockwaves through USC’s athletic department, where several senior administrators had been completely unaware such a landscape-altering move was afoot until the news broke.

For Helton, whose future already was uncertain, Swann’s resignation carried especially massive implications. It was Swann who offered Helton a highly criticized contract extension in February 2018, and Swann who chose to keep him last fall, even as the Trojans experienced their first losing season since 2000.

But until just before university president Carol Folt publicly announced Swann’s resignation Monday, Helton had been in the dark with the rest of the department.

Now, as he stood in front of donors, news spread through the room, putting the coach in a precarious position. Soon, Helton was asked for his thoughts on the departure of the athletic director whose vote of confidence had kept him in his job.

He sidestepped the question. Asked Tuesday about when he first heard of Swann’s resignation, Helton answered, “just a little bit before it hit.”

“We have utter faith in Dr. Folt that she’s going to bring a great AD,” Helton said, “one that’s going to be great for this university and great for this athletic program.”

As Folt considers the future of USC’s athletic department and its football program, the perceived disconnect between her and Helton was notable for a coach many suspect won’t last past this season, barring a stellar finish. With Swann now gone, some wonder if the bloodletting in a department filled with longtime administrators has only just begun.

“There’s still a lot of really rotten apples in the barrel,” said Petros Papadakis, a broadcaster and former Trojans captain. “If Carol Folt is really doing her job, she’s got to do for USC athletics what she’s doing for the rest of the university, which is removing people and bringing in new people who have experience in that job outside the university. Which is what USC should’ve been doing all this time.”

Many around the program interpreted Folt’s decision to name her special advisor, Dave Roberts, as interim athletic director over Steve Lopes, the department’s longtime chief operating officer, as sending that very message.

How a potential purge of USC’s athletic department would impact Helton’s job remains to be seen. Some familiar with the program openly wonder if Helton could win his way into favor with the university’s new leadership.

On Monday, Roberts, an interim member of that leadership who has known Helton since his hiring, visited with the coach and spoke to the team.

Hours before, when asked if a new athletic director could replace Helton, Roberts, who previously served USC’s vice president of athletics compliance, said he would “do anything and everything we can to make sure that Clay has the most successful season yet here at USC.”

As it pertains to his future, though, Roberts noted, “He’s a coach. He’s going to stand on his record.”

That record seriously dwindled a season ago, as USC fell to 5-7 and missed a bowl game. Over his two previous years, the Trojans had won at least 10 games under Helton, twice earning invites to New Year’s Six bowl games.

But even as USC opened this season 2-0, concern over the program’s direction persists. Whether Helton is capable of quelling that widespread concern, while also proving his value to a new president and prospective athletic director, is an open question.

“She’s setting up Clay Helton now a little bit with more pressure,” said Riki Ellison, a former USC linebacker who had been an outspoken critic of Swann. “She’s going to have her own athletic director, and if Clay doesn’t perform, that athletic director is going to pick the new head coach.”

On Tuesday, Helton said he spoke directly to both Folt and Swann in light of the news. Folt, he noted, offered to “help him in any way so you and your team can be successful.”

That help didn’t extend to an early heads-up on Monday. But Helton still has other supporters entrenched within the department, many of whom continue to praise his integrity and sincerity.

After being kept out of the loop on Swann’s abrupt resignation, Helton noted on Tuesday that change at the top could beget further change elsewhere.

“Any time you have change in leadership, there’s transition in other positions,” Helton said. “It’s just a natural occurrence.”

latimes.com

41
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
  SUBSCRIBE HERE TO RECEIVE NOTICE OF NEW COMMENTS OR REPLIES.  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Eastern Ave.
Member
Active Member

The kid from Scottsdale AZ. is something to root for and I pray he stays upright all season.
He looks like the real deal leading man from central casting.
I hope Kedon Slovis’s future is a parallel to what Kurt Warner did when he took over the Rams in ’99 when Trent Green went down.

Can Helton Survive This?…
As Miracle Max said in the “Princess Bride” Film.
“It will take a miracle…” lol.

Have Fun Everyone!
Fight On!

John Weld
Admin
Diamond Member
John Weld
Offline

Devon Williams has entered the transfer portal.

Golden Trojan
Member
Knighted Member

He got in the game Saturday and caught the one pass to him for 11yds. Come on dude hang in there you’ll get your shot.

TrojanMPA90
Member
Noble Member

The funny thing with the transfer portal is players go into it because they can’t beat out other players at the school they are at. So they transfer to somewhere where they think they have a better chance of playing more. If you’re good and get limited opportunities to showcase your skills why not stay. There is always the possibility of injuries to other players.

Paul_Muad_dib
Member
Knighted Member

These kids need learn how to compete. It doesn’t get easier if they plan on going pro. He got in the game last week as well. I don’t get it.

RialtoTrojan
Member
Active Member

We need to stop calling it the transfer portal and call it what is: “the whining bitch didn’t get enough time in the game wanna throw a tantrum portal”

Golden Trojan
Member
Knighted Member

I prefer the “I can’t compete with the big fish and looking for a smaller pond-portal!”

LawyerJohn
Member
Knighted Member
LawyerJohn
Offline

Which team is No. 1 in the history of college football, or more accurately stated, which teams could qualify?– Although the Nebraskas of the ’80s and the Miamis of the ’90s were sensational, the game and the size of players has changed so much that a team of the 2000s would have to be the so-called No. 1– The Alabamas of the past decade could qualify. The 2005 Texas team might be in the running.

TrojanMPA90
Member
Noble Member

Sometimes when your feet are held to the fire, you perform at an amazing level. If Clay can prove himself in the coming months as capable of leading this team to a great season, then the new AD may keep him. If not, then he will be let go.

We all like Clay but he really has to show us more than we’ve seen this season.

usc50
Member
Active Member
usc50
Offline

Yes, Clay Helton holds his USC destiny in his own hands. If he coaches at a high level and is close to winning out the administration will have no choice but to retain him. But he surely has to beat UCLA and make a run at the PAC12 crown.

LawyerJohn
Member
Knighted Member
LawyerJohn
Offline

THE FOLT EFFECT…

I have got to say ‘that Carol Folt’
She certainly is not a dolt…

As if lightening clothed in a bolt
She struck like leading a revolt…

SC football and its white colt
Are in good hands with the Miss Folt

RialtoTrojan
Member
Active Member

Using a Wizard of Oz metaphor, we are not yet ready to sing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, but at least the wizard has been exposed a s a fraud. In this scenario, the scarecrow (brainless) would have to be Helton and you can chose your cowardly lion and tin woodsman. Here it is Wednesday and most places are talking about Monday’s news. I hope the team is looking at Saturday and beyond. On paper I think we have an advantage against BYU even if they did get past Tennessee. But the distraction of the week could turn the… Read more »

fast fred
Member
Active Member
fast fred
Offline

The repeated line of “SC has the best talent” in the PAC-12—-says who? I guess if it is repeated enough, people tend to believe it. Maybe in the past, but you might want to check Washington and Oregon!

TrojanRJJ
Member
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ
Offline

I offer Bruce Feldman’s observation. The new AD is going to decide if Clay can bring SC a NC. If he reaches the same conclusion that Allen has – Clay is simply incapable of that – Clay will be replaced. I put it differently- Clay is no longer trying to save his job. He must perform at a level that forces the new AD to keep him. At minimum, that is winning the PAC 12 South. My guess is it will take more than that. SC has the best talent in the PAC – SC should win it and the… Read more »

Steveg
Member
Mt Rushmore
Steveg
Online

Enjoy our team week to week and lets just worry about getting to the next win. Whatever is going to happen is way out of our pay grades, Folt has a handle on it and I am going to put my confidence in her judgement. Lets just fight on, keep winning, and supporting our players. In Slovis We Trust.

rleeholder1
Member
Noble Member

I think we all wish Clay Helton the best. He’s a very decent human being and, unfortunately, was promoted to a position where he had no prior experience and, IMO, wasn’t prepared for. Also IMO, he’s not Head Coach material. He plays favorites and it has backfired on him, especially last year. I’m rooting for SC to have a winning record and get into a decent bowl game. What that means for Clay Helton, only Carol Folt will know.