College football insider Brooks Melchior of Sports By Brooks says it’s not a matter of if, but when, Clay Helton will be let go this season as the head coach at USC.
Unless the Trojans run the table and win the Pac-12 Championship, the end could come sooner rather than later, Melchior said during Wednesday’s live podcast on FanCred.
“If USC is embarrassed by Utah this week at the Coliseum, Clay Helton will be fired,” Melchior said. “When I say embarrassed, I mean beaten by several touchdowns at home. I’m also hearing from my sources that the bye week before Notre Dame is a week to look at if you’re wondering about Helton’s departure at USC.
“If USC struggles in the immediate future going into the bye, and there’s Utah and Washington coming up, look at the bye week as a possibility as Clay Helton being jettisoned from his duties as head coach.”
Melchior, who lives in Los Angeles and has well-placed sources within the USC athletic department, says Urban Meyer is the top target as Helton’s potential replacement but USC President Carol Folt is against the idea of him leading the football program.
“In the last two days I’ve been canvasing my sources locally here in Los Angeles and I’ve been told Folt wants nothing to with Urban Meyer,” Melchior said. “Does that mean he won’t be hired? At a school that has Al Cowlings name on one of the dormitories, OJ Simpson’s driver in the Bronco … why is his name on a dorm? His name is on the dorm because USC booster Wayne Hughes said to put it on there.
“Wayne Hughes has given USC upwards of almost $400 million and he’s done it almost anonymously. Clay Helton’s future hangs in the balance week to week, he could be fired at any moment.”
Meyer is at the top of the list of big-name coaches who the Trojans could potentially tap if they move on from Helton.
Following Saturday’s tough overtime loss at BYU, USC’s head coach enters a crucial stretch against quality competition over the next three weeks that could ultimately decide his tenure following the resignation of athletic director Lynn Swann last week.
The Trojans play nationally-ranked Utah on Friday, then travel to defending Pac-12 champion Washington and No. 7 Notre Dame.
“We don’t worry about noise,” Helton said. “We live in Los Angeles, California. There’s a ton of damn noise. It’s every day. What we have to focus on is doing our job, winning the next game.”
Meyer hasn’t said outright he’d return to coaching, admitted earlier this month he misses preparing for war and going into battle every Saturday in the fall.
“I’ve been in a fight for 33 years, and now you’re not in that fight,” Meyer said last week in a wide-ranging interview with Cleveland.com. “So how do you fulfill that fight? And I feel that every morning. Every morning. “It’s all about a win and a loss for 33 years. I mean every day was. Not just you’re getting ready for a game. No, no, no, no.
“You’re recruiting every day. You’re going against Alabama and Clemson every day, The Team Up North every day. Now you’re not. That’s the number one void, is you’re not in a fight.”