USC football may have a tough decision to make at head coach in 2020
The college football coaching carousel is probably going to run quite a bit slower this year considering the financial impact of COVID-19 on athletic departments around the country.
For USC football fans, that means accepting the reality that Clay Helton is likely going to stick around for the 2021 season.
Even so, one head has already rolled in the SEC and it should make USC think twice about hanging on to Helton for too long.
USC football could follow South Carolina’s lead
On Sunday, South Carolina decided to part ways with Will Muschamp after he managed a 2-5 record in 2020. They still have three games to go, but opted to pull the bandaid off quickly.
It was a bit of a surprising move considering the financial implications. Muschamp had a pretty big buy out and South Carolina has surely been hit as hard as everyone else with COVID-19 losses.
South Carolina made the bold move to avoid future losses. They could see the loss of interest in an uncompetitive team and the consequences down the line.
USC is in a slightly different position. Helton’s buyout is likely more than $13 million and the Trojans’ financial situation in the Pac-12 pales in comparison to SEC money.
Moreover, Helton isn’t 2-5 this season. He’s an entirely unsatisfying 2-0, but the undefeated record is still in the books.
The trouble is USC fans have just as much cause to turn off the TV after that 2-0 start as South Carolina fans after three straight losses.
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The fanbase wasn’t particularly impressed by the Helton hire to begin with and a blowout loss to Alabama to start his tenure in 2016 hasn’t been forgotten. Bad losses in 2017 overshadowed the Trojans Pac-12 title run. The 2018 season was an unmitigated disaster. The 2019 season was an improvement but included the same qualities of every Helton-coached team: mistake-prone, undisciplined, talented and disappointing.
So far through two games in 2020, nothing has changed even if the defensive coaching staff has.
Mike Bohn may not have wanted to pay a big buyout and fire an 8-win head coach after just a few weeks on the job as USC’s athletic director last year. By now, he’s sat through a blowout by Oregon, the embarrassment of the Holiday Bowl and two games against inferior opponents that required late comebacks.
If he’s spent the last year talking to USC fans, he’ll know exactly how they feel about the current regime. One can only hope he hasn’t spent too much time perusing the cesspool that is his mentions on Twitter. It only takes one peek to get a feel for that particular level of vitriol.
If he does his own research, it wouldn’t be hard to look at how USC consistently fails to cover the spread or win the turnover battle under Helton.
He’ll also have to take note of how many fans chose not to renew their season tickets after Helton was retained last year. Or how few cardboard cutouts are gracing the stands of the Coliseum.
Apathy has already reached the Trojan program. It may be worth following the other USC’s lead, maybe not now at 2-0, but down the line when the chickens come home to roost and a loss or two mars that record.