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Clay Helton Named Permanent USC Head Coach by AD Pat Haden

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2015

Southern California interim head coach Clay Helton watches his players warm up before an NCAA college football game against UCLA Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

USC announced Monday that it has promoted Clay Helton from interim to permanent head coach.

Bryan Fischer of Bleacher Report passed along the press release from the school with a statement from athletic director Pat Haden:

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

From the release. Haden also noted Helton didn’t get the job because of beating UCLA. https://t.co/kCS91RiGad

Helton reportedly got a three-year deal with the Trojans, per Brett McMurphy of ESPN, who added the contract has a two-year option to extend the deal to five years.

USC shared the moment when the team found out about Helton's promotion:

"This is the most unique place in the world," Helton told reporters of USC after the announcement. "It is the pinnacle of college football."

Helton also said he would evaluate the coaching staff after the season.

USC certainly did its due diligence. According to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, the school touched base with Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, who wasn't interested in the job. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported USC wanted to interview Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, while Ian Rapoport of NFL.com added that it reached out to Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly as well.

However, Kelly denied he spoke to the Trojans, telling reporters he "never" spoke to anyone from the program and never had contact with USC.

Helton, 43, replaced Steve Sarkisian on Oct. 11 and has gone 5-2 as the interim head coach, including wins over Utah and UCLA. He led the Trojans to the Pac-12 title game, where they'll face Stanford on Saturday.

He spent six years as an assistant coach with the school, first as a quarterbacks coach before adding the passing game coordinator role to his list of duties in 2012 and becoming the offensive coordinator in 2013. He previously spent 10 seasons at Memphis as an assistant.

He also served as the team's interim head coach in 2013 for its win over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Former USC coach and current Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was thrilled by the hire and certainly felt Helton earned his permanent position:

Pete Carroll @PeteCarroll

Congrats to @USCCoachHelton! An awesome head coach for the Trojans! Couldn't be more fired up! Good luck this weekend! #FightOn

Carroll wasn't the only former USC man who put his support behind Helton.

"Sometimes you've got to go with something different," former running back LenDale White said after the team's win over UCLA on Saturday, per Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. "He's not a Pete Carroll era guy, Sark [Steve Sarkisian] and Ed [Orgeron] and Lane [Kiffin] were too much about emulating Pete Carroll. I like that he's his own guy, doing it his own way."

Former USC wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson also spoke on the hire, saying, "We don't need a famous coach," per Joe Schad of ESPN. "Our university makes the coach. We make coaches famous."

However, not everyone in the USC family is thrilled Helton got the full-time gig, as Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports noted:

Bruce Feldman @BruceFeldmanCFB

Hearing from several old #Trojans players very pissed off about Clay Helton getting hired by Pat Haden as permanent #USC coach.

Under Helton the Trojans have played more physical football and have emphasized the running game. It's been evident that his players have responded to that style of football and Helton's coaching.

Helton has been a breath of fresh air for the players currently on the roster, but the real work will begin in the offseason, when he begins to put together a staff and starts recruiting. It's clear Helton has a solid grasp of managing a game and putting together a game plan. Whether he can build a program will be key to his sustainability with the Trojans.

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