USC football head coach Clay Helton is leading a crusade against the word “Talent,” taking to social media to spread his football philosophy seeking more from his players.
Talent. It’s Clay Helton’s least favorite word, in case you hadn’t heard.
The first-year Trojan head coach gave his opinion on the word last month.
“I really wanted to sell these kids in spring that my least favorite word in the English dictionary is ‘talent,’” Helton was quoted by ESPN. “I’ve heard that we’re a talented bunch for the last six years. I’d much rather have a fundamental, technical, physical, tough football team that is also talented.”
Helton’s crusade against the T-word continued Thursday morning when Helton took to social media to bang home his point.
“Success is not always measured by talent. Live the champions code!” Helton wrote. Included in the tweet was a graphic of the “10 Things That Require Zero Talent.”
What are the things that require zero talent?
- Being on time
- Body language
- Work ethic
- Being prepared
- Doing extra
- Being coachable
Consider that the beginning of a framework for Helton’s own Pyramid of Success like the famous philosophy of John Wooden.
It’s a strong start.
USC enjoyed a major advantage over just about every other program in the west. With a deep tradition of excellence, strong academics, top-level facilities, and a fruitful recruiting base, the oft-repeated phrase that “USC recruits itself” rings true.
Despite coaching upheaval, underachievement and controversy, the Trojans have finished every season in recent memory in the Top 15 of national recruiting rankings.
Yet USC has struggled to finish inside the Top 15 of end of season rankings in that span.
Hours before Helton’s tweet, special teams coach John Baxter tweeted out his own message on two different T-words.
“Talent is the raw material, Technique is the finished product! Champions live the Work!” Baxter wrote alongside a picture of banners on the USC campus declaring 2,669 All-Americans.
USC has had plenty of raw material over the years but a collective sense of being the finished product has been harder to grasp.
If Helton gets his way, that’ll be a problem of the past.
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Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian were offensive gurus. They amassed talent and then conceived ways to get the most out of that talent. The problem? That seemed to only result in statistically exceptional individuals, not team accomplishments.
The mentality that Helton has preached this offseason is a step in the right direction, focused on fundamentals and molding naturally gifted players into something more than themselves.
A team full of players that puts a premium on “being on time, effort, body language, work ethic, energy, being prepared, attitude, passion, doing extra and being coachable” from top to bottom can be greater than the sum of its parts.
That’s one theme that has been consistent for Helton from the start. Unfortunately, the other consistent theme from the other side of the table remains: Can he deliver on the talk?