Clay Helton to Return as USC Head Coach for 2018-19 Season, Per AD Lynn Swann

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2018

Southern California coach Clay Helton, left, yells to his team as Southern California wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. walks off the field during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Los Angeles. Notre Dame won 24-17. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

USC's first losing season since 2000 will not be enough to cost Clay Helton his job.

Athletic director Lynn Swann announced Helton will return as the program's head coach in 2019 despite the Trojans finishing 5-7 this season. USC concluded its campaign with a 24-17 loss to rival Notre Dame on Saturday. 

The statement from Swann read:

"It is my firm belief that we have a good team returning next year and a solid foundation in place, and that Clay Helton is a good coach. Let me be clear to everyone, our players, our recruits and our fans. Clay Helton is our head coach and he will continue to be our head coach.

"I am a strong advocate of consistency within a program, sticking by a leader, supporting them and helping them and their team improve. One season does not define a coach. Remember, Coach Helton inherited a program in turmoil. He won 10 games, including the Rose Bowl, in his first year in 2016. He won 11 games and the Pac-12 title in 2017. He runs a clean program, he graduates his players, he recruits well, he produces NFL players.

"We see programs across the country have a few down years and the fans want to change coaches. In fact, it happened a few years ago with [Notre Dame], but that administration remained committed to their head coach, who made some key changes, worked hard to fix things and got his team to improve markedly. That will happen here at USC."

Helton, 46, is 32-17 during his career as head coach. He took over for Steve Sarkisian during the 2015 season and was hired full time in 2016.

The Trojans finished in the top 10 each of Helton's first two seasons as full-time coach. They fell off following the departure of star quarterback Sam Darnold, with freshman JT Daniels struggling mightily to fill the void. USC closed its regular season with three consecutive losses, highlighted by falling short against rivals UCLA and Notre Dame.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported USC's shortlist included Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, former Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio and current Penn State coach James Franklin.