USC football coach Clay Helton took time out of a team meeting this week to assure players that he will not be leaving after the Trojans play their last two regular-season games, against UCLA and Notre Dame.
With USC (5-5) out of the race for the Pac-12 Conference South title, Helton understood the tenor of what the players would be hearing about his job security. He chose to get in front of the noise.
“I let the boys know that my plan is to be here a long time,” Helton said. “The beautiful thing about social media is a lot of people get opinions. Those opinions can affect kids, and they want to know where coach’s mindset is. They also want to know the stability of their coach. Like I told them, my plan is to be here another 15 years. I’d like to do it until I’m 60 right here. That’s my plan. Know this: I’m not going anywhere. I want them to know my jaw is set.”
Three days after USC blew a 14-0 halftime lead in a 15-14 loss to California at the Coliseum, Helton exuded confidence that the Trojans’ latest setback wasn’t debilitating for his future.
One of the reasons Helton felt comfortable digging in his metaphorical cleats is his belief that he has the support of athletic director Lynn Swann, who extended Helton’s contract last offseason and stated publicly two weeks ago, “I stand solidly behind Clay.”
“Lynn every Monday walks into my office and has given me nothing but ‘Coach, we’re in this for the long haul, we’re going to get this thing done,’ ” Helton said. “That’s what I’ve felt from day one, and it was what I felt after the Cal game also. I know that in my heart I’m going to be here. … I feel very secure in where I’m at right now.”