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USC Will Reportedly Keep Clay Helton as Trojans Offensive Coordinator

Dec 21, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Southern California Trojans interim coach Clay Helton reacts during the second quarter against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2013

Interim head coach No. 1, Ed Orgeron, will not return to USC next season, opting instead to resign in a fit of rage after the Trojans hired Steve Sarkisian to replace him. But his successor, interim head coach No. 2, will be back in a familiar role in 2014.

According to Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News, the Trojans will announce that Clay Helton, who served as offensive coordinator this season and coached the team in the Las Vegas Bowl against Fresno State, will be retained under Sarkisian next year:

Helton is in his fourth season with USC, serving first as the quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator before being promoted to offensive coordinator at the start of the 2013 season.

Despite the title, though, former head coach Lane Kiffin called the plays over Helton at the start of the year, when USC's offense—QB Cody Kessler in particular—was struggling to find a rhythm.

Since Kiffin's unceremonious firing, that unit has made massive improvements.

Sarkisian is an offensive-minded coach himself. He served as the quarterbacks coach at USC from 2001-2003, left for the same position with the Oakland Raiders in 2004 and then came back as the Trojans QB coach and/or offensive coordinator between 2005 and 2008. He accepted the head-coaching gig at Washington in 2009, one year before his mentor, Pete Carroll, left for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

Between Sarkisian's hire and Helton's return, USC's starting quarterback in 2014 will have no excuse not to succeed. Whether it's Kessler or someone else—say, blue-chip freshman Max Browne, who redshirted this season—the staff at USC is officially loaded with guys who know how to groom signal-callers.

Carson Palmer, Matt Cassel, Matt Leinart, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Keith Price are just seven of the names that have thrived thanks to Helton and Sarkisian's collective tutelage.

Who will be next on that list?

 

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