Did you know?
Clay Helton is the new Head Coach for the University of Southern California. (photo:USA TODAY)
Don’t know if you are paying attention, but there are Auburn ties in the PAC-12!
Recently the University of Southern California and Athletic Director Pay Haden named the interim head coach Clay Helton as the new head coach of the Trojans football team.
So what are his ties to Auburn University?
Well, did you know that he was recruited by Auburn and played for Pat Dye until 1992? In 1990 he was redshirted. And from 1991 to 1992 he was the backup quarterback to Stan White. In 1992 he received SEC All-Academic honors. He transferred at the end of the 1992 season to University of Houston where he played for his Dad, Kim Helton, who was the head coach.
Kim Helton had his own ties with the State of Alabama. His career spanned college, Canadian Football League, and the NFL. His Alabama ties are that he served as the offensive coordinator at UAB starting in 2007 until 2011 when Neil Callaway’s staff was fired.
Clay has a great football pedigree. He began his career at Duke where he was a graduate assistant in 1995. He was named as a running backs coach in 1996. He served as a running backs coach under his Dad, Kim Helton until 1999. He was hired by University of Memphis in 2000 and stayed as the running backs coach until 2002. In 2003 he was moved to wide receiver coach where he stayed until 2006. And in 2007 he was named offensive coordinator where he stayed until 2009. He was hired in 2010 to be the Arkansas State offensive coordinator, but he was there only two months until he was hired by USC to be the quarterbacks coach. In 2013 he was named the interim head coach after the previous “interim”, Ed Orgeron, quit. He also became the offensive coordinator.
I reported at the beginning of the 2015 season that new USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was having difficulties adapting to the job. Turns out he was also dealing with family problems. It appears a divorce, the stress of the job, and battling alcoholism was too much. In October 2015 he was fired.
In 2015, USC, which had lost the third game of the season to Stanford, continued to fight. Sarkisian was fired shortly after the second loss which was to Washington (oh, the irony). It was just the fifth game of the season. Helton was again named the interim head coach. Helton and the Trojan’s fought bravely but lost the next game to Notre Dame. But then they put together a dramatic comeback and salvaged the season, losing only to Oregon to finish the season 8 – 4. This bought them a ticket to the PAC-12 championship game where they lost to Stanford for a second time.
Helton is known as a players’ coach. Speaking as an Auburn alum, I wish nothing but the best for Helton. Who knows… maybe someday soon… “Mama” will be calling him home?