Strange days at USC. Head coach Clay Helton is 1-2. He’s already making a change at quarterback. His special teams unit is trotting out 8 guys to stop point after attempts. And he’s spending mid-week pressers denying wild rumors. Like the one that one of his offensive linemen — prized freshman E.J. Price – turned his lights out
Helton: “I’m not a big social media guy, but I got told today about E.J. Price hitting me, which is funny. I wouldn’t be here, I’d be dead, one. May make my face look better.”
HA HA, GOOD ONE, COACH!
Stop it, Clay, you’re killing us. No, I mean, really stop it.
That three ring circus that Trojan fans keep hoping had left town is back and bigger than ever. And now USC has to travel to Utah on Friday night to take on Kyle Whittingham and the Utes in their house. Trust me, that’s the wrong opponent and the wrong time. The Utes know the Trojans are the wounded and are looking to end them and their season right now.
And if it happens, Helton, who is just a few months into a five year deal could be in big trouble already. Five years. Is there anyone anywhere who thinks his guy is going to last another five months. Hell, five weeks?.
That’s where we’re at. A program that was in full dynasty mode a decade ago is now on its fourth head coach since Pete Carroll left town for Seattle. And now they’re a laughingstock. Actually, they were a laughingstock under Lane Kiffin. Then an embarrassment under Sark. And now under Helton, they’re this close to being irrelevant. Forgotten. Meaningless.
And remember, Helton who was supposed to be a stabilizing factor after the previous two train wrecks Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin. Hell, in their defense, no one ever said that a player punch either Sark or Kiff in the face.
Helton is doing his best to put a tourniquet on this. He made the move at quarterback from Max Browne to redshirt freshman Sam Darnold, hoping that it’ll shake up an offense that only managed six points in the season-opening blowout against Alabama and 10 in their 17-point loss to Stanford.
“He is not the reason we’re 1-2. He is not the scapegoat here,” Helton said.
You’re right, Clay. You’re going to be.
Because the team you’re coaching has major problems. They’ve shown more fight in practice than they have on the field — when your star receiver is throwing haymakers at teammates and then sitting practice out, pouting in the corner.
You’ve got linebackers stomping on dude’s junk in blowout losses and offensive linemen putting their hands on referees. More seriously, you’ve had two players thrown off the team after felony sexual assault charges.
This wasn’t the plan when Pat Haden took the interim tag off you because he thought you’d be a stabilizing factor.
Then again, where the hell is Haden right about now?
The former star quarterback and Rhodes’ scholar left his cush private equity job to come save the Trojans athletic department after former AD Mike Garrett went to war with the NCAA and got his head kicked in. But Haden left the job with his tail between his legs — in way over his head as an administrator, his reputation severely wounded by some of his own sketchy decision-making.
Hiring Steve Sarkisian was the first big mistake. Looks like picking Helton over national candidates like Tom Herman — a SoCal native — will be a mistake, too. Throw in the LA Times going all-in on Haden and his habit of paying family members six-figure salaries from non-profit charities, and it made things pretty clear that classy, Pat Haden wasn’t a cut above: really wasn’t any different or better than anyone else; much less everyone else.
Now it’s Lynn Swann’s job to clean up.
Yes, that Lynn Swann. Decent enough dude. But whose qualifications to serve as an athletic director are: Playing football at USC and being famous.
What a train wreck. Three games in and it’s upside down. And now Helton is bringing a first-time starter into Rice-Eccles at night in an absolute must-win game for USC. What a complete system failure. Coach em up, Clay. Coach them the hell up.