USC Interim Head Coach Clay Helton. Photo: Michael Owen Baker

USC head football coach Clay Helton was fired
today, with university Athletic Director Mike Bohn calling him “one of the
finest human beings I have met in the industry” but saying he believes the
team will have a greater chance of success this season under new leadership.
The firing comes two days after the 15th-ranked Trojans suffered a 42-
28 loss to unranked Stanford in front of a stunned crowd at Los Angeles
Memorial Coliseum.

Bohn said Assistant Coach Donte Williams will lead the team for the
rest of the season.

“This season is just getting started and we have the opportunity to
really do something special with this team and this program,” Bohn said.

“Donte is an experienced and well-respected coach who is renowned for his
ability to develop relationships with student-athletes, and I appreciate his
willingness to take on this challenge. We still have control of our own destiny
in the Pac-12 Conference, a tremendously talented group of student-athletes,
and complete faith in the phenomenal assistant coaches and outstanding support
staff in the John McKay Center.”

Bohn said a national search will be conducted for a new coach.
Helton had a 46-24 record as USC’s head coach, leading the team to a
dramatic victory over Penn State in the Jan. 2, 2017, Rose Bowl. He led the
team to the Cotton Bowl in December 2017, but the team fell short against Ohio
State. The team won three Pac-12 South division titles during his tenure.

“Clay is one of the finest human beings I have met in this industry,
and he has been a tremendous role model and mentor to our young men,” Bohn
said. “We appreciate his many years of service to our university and wish him
nothing but the very best. Consistent with our values as an institution, he
deserves the utmost respect from the Trojan Family during this transition.

“As I committed to upon my arrival at USC, during the past two off-
seasons we provided every resource necessary for our football program to
compete for championships,” Bohn said. “The added resources carried
significantly increased expectations for our team’s performance, and it is
already evident that, despite the enhancements, those expectations would not be
met without a change in leadership.”

Bohn said USC and university leadership are committed to “restoring
USC football to glory.”

“This decision represents our next step toward that goal in what has
been a thoughtful and strategic process to build a comprehensive football
organization equivalent to the premier programs in the modern landscape. I
accept the enormous responsibility I have to our current and former players and
the entire Trojan Family to live up to our incredible heritage.”