Five Candidates To Replace Clay Helton At USC

James Franklin

Five Candidates To Replace Clay Helton At USC


Five Candidates To Replace Clay Helton At USC


Clay Helton is likely done at USC. After overseeing a 5-7 season, missing a bowl game and wildly underachieving in his third season, most believe Helton will be gone by Monday. [UPDATE: nevermind; USC AD Lynn Swann has announced Clay Helton is staying at USC.]

After leading USC to the Rose Bowl in his first full season and winning the Pac-12 in his second, Helton and his staff have dropped the ball horribly this season. The Trojans have been undisciplined, uninspired and just flat-out bad all year.

With that in mind here’s a look at five candidates USC athletic director Lynn Swann should consider for the job.

James Franklin

James Franklin, Penn State

While it seems crazy, but there is a ton of smoke around this one. James Franklin has a great job at Penn State, but plenty of rumors over the last few weeks have connected him with USC. Maybe his agent is using the Trojans to leverage a big new contract at his current job, but it’s worth addressing anyway.

Franklin took over a terrible Vanderbilt program and made three bowl games while going 24-15 during his time on campus. That included two 9-4 seasons. In 2014, he moved on to Penn State and after two 7-6 seasons, he won the Big Ten in 2016 and went 11-3 after losing an all-time great Rose Bowl against (checks notes…) USC. In 2017 the Nittany Lions went 11-2 and won the Fiesta Bowl. This season they’ve gone 9-3 and overall he’s 45-20 since arriving in State College.

Here’s the thing about Penn State: it’s a phenomenal job, but in the Big Ten East, it’s probably the third best football program. Franklin’s path to a conference title goes through Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State every year. USC is clearly the elite program in the Pac-12 and especially the perennially weak Pac-12 South.

The 46-year-old Franklin is an outstanding, energetic recruiter and has the personality to be a star in Los Angeles. He would be an excellent fit at USC if he’s truly interested in moving on from Penn State.

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