Do Folt & Bohn Really Get it?

USC’s disgruntled fans will learn an important lesson from the Clay Helton decision

Clay Helton is congratulated by new USC AD Mike Bohn at midfield after the Trojans beat UCLA 52-35 at the Coliseum. (Robert Gauthier / LA Times)

Their first big joint decision will come when they decide the fate of Clay Helton. That decision not only will impact the future of the football program but also tell USC fans whether Folt, their new president, and Bohn, the new athletic director, have a finger on the pulse of the fan base or are as tone-deaf as their predecessors.

It’s really not a hard decision. Parting ways with Helton actually may be one of the easier decisions they make. It’s not that Helton is a bad coach or had a bad season, it’s just that he simply cannot continue to lead USC’s football program.

You could look at his record over the last two seasons (13-11) or his record without Sam Darnold as his starting quarterback (20-17), but it goes beyond wins and losses. His presence on the sideline is slowly sucking the life out of the program.

The average attendance at the Coliseum over the last two seasons is 57,403, meaning there are regularly more than 20,000 empty seats for home games — more when you look at tickets actually used and not just distributed. Not only is there apathy among a dwindling fan base, but there’s also growing apathy with potential recruits — the lifeblood of any successful program. USC’s recruiting classes have been a fixture in the top 10 for years, regardless of the coach, but its 2020 class currently ranks outside of the top 65, according to multiple sources.

USC recruits itself and should never fall outside of the top 25. It’s an indictment of the coach when it sinks to its current depths. It’s not hard to recruit against USC right now. Most opposing coaches don’t need to tell recruits anything they don’t already know about Helton’s uncertain future. Even if USC decides to stay the course with Helton, he would be a lame duck coach in danger of being fired at any point. Few recruits are willing to tie their futures to a coach in that kind of situation.

It’s clear that USC’s new president and new athletic director need to hire a new football coach. The question is whether it’s as clear to them as it is to a disgruntled fan base they’re still getting to know.

latimes.com

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HOF19
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From Adam Maya’s twitter account “Report >>> USC to retain Clay Helton “

HOF19
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Reign of Troy‏Verified account @ReignofTroy · 28m28 minutes ago
 More

MORE UPDATES:
Nothing official yet, but more reporters are indicating the likelihood of #USC retaining Clay Helton, including the big one himself, Bruce Feldman.

HOF19
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Bruce Feldman‏Verified account @BruceFeldmanCFB · 27m27 minutes ago

Sources inside #USC are optimistic that head coach Clay Helton will get retained I’m told.

HOF19
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How can IN ANY WAY can you use the word OPTIMISTIC and Clay Helton in the same sentence …….If he is still the Head Coach OPTIMISTIC is not a feeling I can seem to even come close to feeling .

HOF19
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If you have read my comments on this blog you know I quite often through the day check on the twitter accounts of USC beat writers. Have checked ( in the last 45 minutes) not seeing any news yet . But seeing comments like “Not want #USC fans wanted to hear…” seeing hints of the BEGINNING SAY …….of a point of view (and I vomit as I type this) that Media is believing ……SAY ….. that Helton might just still be coaching USC for at least another year.

HOF19
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Again if the USC Media is buying this (IF ! )….They are at the very very beginning stages of buying it .

PN4SC
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Don’t shoot the messenger- Footballscoop.com is reporting that Clay is being retained, with an announcement tomorrow.
Could Bohn and Folt be that tone deaf?
If true, SC football is screwed for the next several years.Bama will kill us, and dumb ass Helton will be on the sidelines looking like a deer in the headlights

Jamaica
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Supposedly, according to Scott Wolf’s blog ( in which he has a disclaimer on its accuracy), a high ranking USC insider says Helton is being given until Thursday to find another job (like at UNLV). Bob Stoops has already been contacted and Urban Meyer is being pushed hard to accept the USC HC position. The announcement has been delayed due to neither coach they are targeting has accepted yet. But they are the top 2-choices right now.

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I don’t buy this from Wolfe. I have never heard any employer say, “Hey, we are going to fire you, but we want you to have a job before we do, Now you have until Thursday (two days from now) to find work.” I don’t know any employer that would hire someone that quickly, even if CCH was told this last week. This is like something you would read in the Onion. I don’t believe this for a moment. Wolfe has outdone his normal obtuse self with this one. I just put my scotch and vodka back in the cabinet.

Steveg
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I am keeping mine out so I can get through this.

Jamaica
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So many ways this thing can go. We all want the best possible man in UM. But the contradictions are everywhere where you can’t get a bead on anything. I have to hand it to Bohn, he isn’t showing his hand nor are the people he’s talking to showing theirs either. He’s been pretty slick up to now.

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Grain of salt with your scotch time: From malcontent Wolf … “I’m going to post something around 5 p.m. that could signal some good news. I’m still talking to some sources.”

Steveg
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Another question comes to mind. It makes no sense, as has been mentioned here before, that if USC wanted to keep Helton they would have already said so. Who would want all this hassle and all the email they must be getting. I have to admire Bohn for doing something the right way, although slower than what we would wish. I would have to ask if they were to keep Helton would he have the huevos to fire Clancy and Baxter? If he did fire them, who in the hell would want to come to USC to replace them. Here… Read more »

Rock2112
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Might be replacing Harrell too. That’s too much in one year, in my view. Doomed to fail.

Just logical
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Maybe they prefer the email to the pitchforks and are waiting until we’ve given up the watch to
announce the retention of CH. Do you think Graham Harrell’s situation has anything to do with the delay? Personally I think if he’s going, which appears likely, it’s time to start with a new crew.

TrojanMPA90
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As frustrating as it is to wait for a decision, we have to trust that Bohn and Folt will do what is best for USC. If they feel Clay should stay, they need to be ready to own that decision and explain their rational for making that choice. If they fire him, they need to be ready to explain why they decided to do that.

RialtoTrojan
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When my wife was expecting I didn’t keep this close of a watch on the situation. She had Braxton hicks contractions, but we just went back to our business until she gave birth. Here we are a bunch of fanatic Trojans waiting to hear if it’s a coach or another mistake. The suspense is worth the price of dues in the club, but c’mon Bohn; squeeze the cheese or leave the porcelain.

Scipio
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Playing off your Braxton Hicks comment, can Bohn induce labor at this point?

RialtoTrojan
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When they did that to my wife, my son’s head got stuck and they did a C-section. But your point is valid– do something Bohn.

Rock2112
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I just received the following response to my email to Mike Bohn last Friday (I know it is a form email that commits to nothing specific, but it’s better than no response at all!): Thank you for sharing your candid thoughts. We appreciate your passion and support of USC Athletics. We are committed to ensuring that our football program competes at the highest level. We are focused on strategic enhancements that will fuel competitiveness, player development and results. Our student-athletes are deserving of our collective, unequivocal support. Loyal Trojans like you are the foundation as they strive to fight on… Read more »

Scipio
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Thanks Rock for posting Bohn’s response to your well written email. Yes, at least you got a response. In some ways that is an improvement.

Paul_Muad_dib
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Panthers just fired their coach…

usc50
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One good thing about this perceived delay in making a decision is that Bohn seems to be covering all his bases. He has been through the mill before and realizes that a no decision is better than a bad decision.
Perhaps no first rate coach really wants to come to the USC situation. UM seems more unlikely than likely due to his health.
But whatever the case it is good that Bohn is looking at all the options. He should not make a move until he feels it is the right one.

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UM and SC have had lots of time to consider this change. Bohn brought his number one bean counter (sorry CPAs) with him when he came. He must have been counting the costs, direct and indirect, in firing CCH from day one, He shouldn’t need to be in extensive negotiations at this time, I am afraid UM is not coming,

Chris
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Multiple sources are now reporting nothing, absolutely nothing. Bohn is a stealthy guy, nobody has seen or heard anything.

Here’s a theory- Clay keeps a position in the athletic department somewhere under Bohn. His job is to cheer up student athletes, kind of like a therapy dog. He also works in sports information dept and spins bad weekends from other USC coaches into something that sounds positive when we all really know it’s not.

Paul_Muad_dib
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Clay is a true revolutionary. He will be the nation’s first ever “Emotional Support Coach”. His main duties will be hugging players’ necks and giving them kisses after they get a boo-boo. He will also be responsible for coordinating the participation trophy ceremony at the end of every game.

Steveg
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Clay Helton would be a great asset in the athletic department as an assistant AD or over compliance. Even better, he could be in charge of the safe room.

Jack B
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It all sounds to me like nobody knows nuthin’, both inside and out. Too many moving parts and backstory to allow for a clean break. Can’t wait for Clay, the energy drainer (good one Allen), to be gone.

Rock2112
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I think we have enough tea leaves to know what’s going on. Decision is to replace Clay, UNLESS … and the “unless” is that they cannot secure a replacement that will forestall a wave of torches outside Heritage Hall. They did not fire Clay and then sign a replacement, because they view keeping Clay as a legitimate (but not desired) Plan B (or Plan Z, if it makes you feel better). This is not a situation where a coach went 0-12, or struck a player, or something like that. The other part of the SI report — that Urban Meyer… Read more »

Paul_Muad_dib
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I’m afraid they got a “no” from Meyer and that is why we haven’t heard anything yet. They are going through their plan B’s and C’s right now. Either that, or Meyer is asking for way too much now that his name was mentioned for the Cowboys job. Look what happened with Kingsbury. Either way, I’m not too confident right now.

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I’m feeling a bit better than you Paul. The initial SI report said a hiring was expected at the end of this week, so we’re not overdue yet. I think that is the timetable. I will start worrying if it doesn’t leak out this evening that Clay is officially being let go. If things go right, the statement that Clay is dismissed goes out tomorrow morning, Thursday night the new hire leaks, and Friday morning is the introductory press conference. Hopefully Clay stays to coach the bowl so new coach (cough, Meyer) can go out fast, build staff, and do… Read more »

Paul_Muad_dib
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I hope you’re right. I see no reason why they can’t announce Helton’s firing though. It’s hurting recruiting day by day.

Rock2112
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Well, having no coach hurts recruiting too. We’re dead this year either way unless a big hire is announced. It isn’t even a matter of “degrees of dead.”

LawyerJohn
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Joseph Bulovas. If you are having a bad day or bad moment over the Helton-thing, think of how Joseph Bulovas is feeling. He is the Alabama field goal kicker who missed the kick, and the ‘Tide lost 48-45. I bet there are students who blame him for the loss. Is he walking around the Alabama campus incognito? I think I would.

Paul_Muad_dib
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Joseph gets no such sympathy from me.

TrojanRJJ
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I loved the line that Helton is sucking the life out of USC football. I wonder if Arash has been reading TDB? Allen was the first I am aware of to make that point. Clay has, singlehandedly, been able to completely suck the life out of one of the most vibrant programs and experiences in the collegiate football. A vampire coach! I read a post on another board that raised a point I had never considered. Bohn is not just facing the Helton decision – he has a true “swamp” on his hands with his staff. The poster claimed that… Read more »

Paul_Muad_dib
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The vampire description was perfect lol

Jamaica
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What did anyone really expect when a QB coach-OC who stood around watching Kiffin & Sarkisian running the offense has a HC job at an elite football program laid in his lap? Helton, basically, was just along for the ride. All he was going to do was be a gofer in position coaching. He wasn’t ready to be a HC and to prove it, his first act was to hire his staff which would up being friends and recently fired coaches. The blind was leading the blind but the luck has been a good friend to Helton for these past… Read more »

alfa1
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Frozen by indecision, lack of proactive planning, unimaginative and uninspiring leadership….
This whole episode indicts and exposes all involved. This has turned into a Farcical Comedy for the whole nation to witness.

LawyerJohn
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Bone: I think Bone gets it. How can he not hear the constant shrill crying of the SC faithful? But it seems the guy is his own man and he will do it his way. Period.,,, SC people: Speaking of SC fans, a commentator on another blog wrote this: “It seemed to me that Helton’s future overshadowed almost everything that happened on the field, which translated to public opinion and constant debate, which has gotten stale, old, and numbing.”,,,, Mark Twain: One of the top 5 American writers, said of criticism of his work. I thought the insults were of… Read more »

Mikejohn
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LJ: I hope that your prediction is correct. Maybe I am naive, but I think that if the AD wanted to keep the current coach on staff, the AD would have stated so by now.

Jamaica
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Why of course!

Jamaica
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When you follow a legend, then you think twice about taking the job as you will be compared to how the legend did. When you follow an overwhelmed underachieving HC of an elite program, you have a better shot of succeeding be more appreciated.

RialtoTrojan
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At one time USC was the only game in town. After the Rams left for good, going with lady who killed her husband to take his money and team, and UCLA slid into mediocrity/ USC was it. USC didn’t get to this point without shooting itself in the foot so many times along the way. The arrogance of the administration was mirrored by the stupidity of their hired help. USC not only encouraged its competition, it open the doors and gave them the keys. The hired a “whatever” coach or three. The passed on the one high spirited coach. They… Read more »

Jamaica
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Well said man.