Saturday might have been the lowest point for USC this season. I say might have because the Trojans have another game next week to reach bowl eligibility against No. 3 Notre Dame at the Coliseum.
USC dropped their second game in a row against 2-8 UCLA at the Rose Bowl. It was the Trojans first loss to the Bruins in 4 years and their first loss to a team with 8 losses since 1960. The loss also put USC at a 5-6 record and secured their first losing record in conference play since 2000. Not to mention USC was swept by the California schools in the Pac-12 for the first time since 1996. Following the loss, the continuous talk of USC head coach Clay Helton grew louder and louder. During the post game press conference Helton was asked about his job security.
“That’s a great question for Mr. Swann” said Helton. “And out of honor and respect for him I’ll let you ask him that.”
To be honest he is actually on to something. That is a great question for Mr. Swann. USC has had number of historic lows under Helton this season. The biggest criticism has been his coaching. The Trojans have lacked in making adjustments and improving as the season continued. The fact that the team struggled in a down Pac-12 South made things look worse. Yes USC was bound to have a down year, however no one could picture the Trojans having a losing record in the Pac-12 and possibly missing a bowl game. With the state of USC football currently in a pretty bad spot, what does Lynn Swann do?
It may seem so simple with him to just let Clay Helton go and go in another direction. With early signing day coming next month, you would thing USC would act quickly on these things right? It’s hard to tell what Lynn Swann will do as of right now. The USC athletic director gave his full support for Clay Helton the week after USC fell to Arizona State at home. Ever since then there hasn’t been much said from Swann and following the Trojans loss to UCLA Saturday he was no sign of him outside the Trojans locker room. Take that for however you want to. All we know is that the two will meet on Monday like they usually do, but from there that’s where it’ll be up in the air.
No sign of Lynn Swann outside the locker room.— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) November 18, 2018
If Swann does indeed decide to let Helton go, then it will get interesting. The last few years, USC hasn’t quite hit on their coaching hires. Everyone will want to see what Swann does and who he’ll interview during the coaching search. Names such as former Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio and Hue Jackson has came up as possible candidates for the USC head coaching job if it became available. Other names such as Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, Utah head coach Kyle Wittingham, and Utah State head coach Matt Wells were mentioned by fans and media as possible candidates that the current AD should interview. Swann will have a job at finding his own guy and actually hitting on the hire as well.
There is also the possible reality that Lynn Swann opts to keep Clay Helton for another season. We’ve heard Helton reiterate that he believes he’ll be the Trojans head coach in 2019 and feels that he has the full support of Swann. That could be true. He’s also has the endless support from the players and that could factor into the head coach staying. Then there’s Helton’s buyout which currently sits at $14 million. With no school president and an expensive buyout, USC could opt to hold on to Clay Helton and let him make the necessary staff changes to turn it around. It’s the same story from when Pat Haden opted to hold on to Lane Kiffin following the 2012season where the Trojans collapsed towards the end of the season after starting as the No. 1 team in the nation. Keep in mind that Kiffin was not Haden’s hire much like Helton was not Swann’s hire. It’s entirely possible that Swann opts to keep the head coach for 2019. It won’t be a popular choice with many people, but it could be an option.
Regardless of what happens, all eyes are going to be on Lynn Swann. If USC wants to get back to where they were then it has to start with him. As mentioned, the Trojans coaching hires haven’t panned out as what they expected. If they’re going to get this right then Lynn Swann will have to go outside the box on this.