Clay Helton has some explaining to do. After USC announced it was retaining Helton as its head football coach on December 4, he's done precisely nothing to improve his program. Two completely wasted weeks have passed and have ultimately culminated in disaster during Wednesday's early signing day. Helton and the higher-ups at USC have a lot to answer for.
As of Wednesday, USC's 2020 recruiting class ranks 12th in the Pac-12 and 77th nationally. Yes, you read that right. USC, despite all that tradition and being situated in the heart of some of college football's most fertile recruiting grounds, has an incoming class placed just behind Bowling Green on 247's recruiting rankings.
Obviously, that ranking will change, as USC only has 11 current commits in a class that will likely number about 19, and the Trojans sit in good standing to land four-star wideout Gary Bryant Jr. Even so, this class has been and will be a complete catastrophe. The fact that USC will be left scrambling to fill out its open scholarships over the six weeks is mind-boggling.
At the heart of the matter is California recruiting, as kids from the Golden State are leaving in droves. So far, none of the top 25 players in the state of California are committed to USC. NONE. That's utterly insane. The top player in the state, linebacker Justin Flowe, grew up a USC fan and committed to Oregon over the Trojans on Wednesday.
As USC has come up empty, Oregon, Arizona State, Washington Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State have all raided the state, leeching off all the top talent.
In 2019, only four of the top 25 players in California signed with USC. One of them -- receiver Bru McCoy -- transferred to Texas before transferring back. And one of the kids who left the state -- cornerback Chris Steele -- also transferred in to USC. Despite those additions, those massive California misses have happened repeatedly under Helton and can't be allowed to continue.
USC used to lock down the state of California, especially under Pete Carroll. Even Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian built walls around the state. Helton has essentially handed these kids ladders to scale those barriers.