The Clay Helton era at USC is over.
After more than five full seasons as USC's head coach in which he went 46-24 and never won a Pac-12 title, Helton was fired by USC on Monday. Athletic director Mike Bohn announced in a statement that cornerbacks coach Donte Williams will take over as the Trojans' interim head coach.
The final straw for Helton, who replaced Steve Sarkisian as USC's head coach midway through the 2015 season and had been on the Trojans' coaching staff since 2010, came Saturday when the Trojans lost to Stanford, 42-28, in a game in which they trailed by as many as 29 points.
Per Bohn's statement, USC “will conduct a national search” for a new head coach over the next few months. While that's already led to plenty of speculation about whether Urban Meyer could end up at USC if his tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars is short-lived, a more realistic candidate with Ohio State ties may be Luke Fickell, as Bohn was the athletic director at Cincinnati before he became USC's AD in 2019.
Other coaches who could hypothetically be targeted to replace Helton include Penn State coach James Franklin, Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck and Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, whose stock is likely higher than ever before after the Ducks' win over Ohio State on Saturday.
Early list for USC: James Franklin, Matt Campbell, Bill O'Brien, Luke Fickell, P.J. Fleck, Mario Cristobal, Greg Schiano and Tony Elliott. Former coaches who could be sought include Chris Petersen and Bob Stoops.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) September 13, 2021