Mike Bohn makes dubious claims on USC’s Clay Helton decision process

USC football head coach Clay Helton and AD Mike Bohn. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
USC football head coach Clay Helton and AD Mike Bohn. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

Athletic director Mike Bohn’s explanation for USC’s decision to keep Clay Helton, and the process behind it, smells to high heaven.

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No offense Mike Bohn, but it’s time to call BS. We’re not buying it.

On Tuesday, after officially announcing the decision to retain Clay Helton, Bohn went on a media tour of sorts. He released a statement, so did the head coach. He chatted to a group of local reporters. He spoke with Dennis Dodd of CBS. He went on ESPN Radio.

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Nothing he said will have done anything to calm the frustrations of a very unhappy fanbase.

Asked about how he came to the decision, Bohn parroted the same lines that have had fans rolling their eyes for a month, about schedule and injuries and youth impacting the performance of the Trojans in 2019.

“I believe Clay Helton probably did his best coaching job this year,” Bohn said, per Antonio Morales of the Athletic, even though he’s only been around long enough to see three games, coincidentally three games against mediocre opposition ripe for USC to swat around.

Clay Helton’s “best coaching job” was in getting USC to 8-4, failing to win the South because of an embarrassing blow out loss to Oregon. Mhm, okay Mike. That’s encouraging for a future which involves an opening week match up against Nick Saban and Alabama in 2020.

Asked if he pursued any coaching candidates as alternatives to Helton, Bohn responded: “The process was a thorough review of all of our options and potential scenarios, but no,” per Ryan Kartje of the Los Angeles Times.

To be fair to Bohn, it’s not like he could say, ‘Yes, we tried to land Urban Meyer and couldn’t, but anyways we have full support for Helton here.’

Still, the idea that USC didn’t seriously and directly pursue another coach is either unbelievable, and a bald-faced lie, or inexcusable, and a sign of extreme incompetence.

Failing to land another big fish is disappointing enough without saying ‘no, we didn’t pursue other candidates’ with a straight face.

Finally, there’s the matter of timing. Why did it take 11 days after the end of the 2019 regular season for USC to reach this conclusion?

According to Bohn, it didn’t.

“The press release Wednesday was for fans, critics and the media…The coach had known for a while,” Dennis Dodd wrote for CBS Sports.

“We have been…pulling all these different pieces together [since the season ended],” Bohn said. “He had a good idea [he was coming back]…He clearly understood our unwavering support of him.”

Asked what changed between Sunday and Wednesday, Bohn gave the most insulting answer yet.

“The answer is nothing new as far as what we’re learning,” he was quoted by Dodd. “As I told the team, we’ve been working hard insuring that we have alignment on the ability for us to invest more in this program. Looking at how we put those in play, we just needed some extra time to do that. There was no reason to rush.”

Let’s ignore the babble about alignment and investment and whatever that all means…There was no reason to rush?

There. Was. No. Reason. To. Rush.

While schools across the country were making changes, from head coach dismissals to coordinator and assistant firings, USC was sitting on their hands with no reason to rush. As the likes of Texas was already putting out feelers talking to candidates they had identified to fill their now-vacant offensive coordinator position, Bohn and company were whistling a tune because 

If, indeed, USC knew 11 days ago, or four days ago, that they intended to keep Clay Helton on as head coach, then they should have announced it 11 days ago, or four days ago. They could have avoided the chaos of the past week, with Trojan fans frantically searching for answers about the fate of their program as speculation over buyouts and other coaches created a frenzy. They could have avoided Sunday’s erroneous report of Helton being fired, a saga Bohn felt the need to apologize to the team for.

“I apologized to them that they’ve had to endure media reports that were inaccurate and endure so many negative representation of their program that maybe wasn’t fully accurate,” Bohn said, per Adam Grosbard of the OC Register.

Apparently the fans don’t warrant the same apology.

No, USC fans get to walk away from today’s proceedings with the equivalent of a patronizing pat on the head.

“You’ve been loyal for so many years,” USC president Carol Folt said, per Kartje of the LA Times. “That has been something the university has always really valued and still values now. We want you to be loyal to a university you’re proud of.”

“I am well aware of some of the fans that are upset,” Bohn said, from the OC Register. “I share their frustration and their competitive spirit.”

All due respect, we call BS on that too.

Next. Don't Be Surprised When Helton Fails