Clay Helton, head coach of the USC Trojans, always seems to be in the hot seat.
Helton was named head coach of USC's football program back in 2015 [first as interim] after the Trojans had a falling out with now Texas HC Steve Sarkisian. In his five seasons leading the men of Troy, Helton has faced a plethora of criticism from fans and media, despite leading USC to winning seasons in all but one.
Here are the facts.
During his first two seasons as USC's head coach, he was the first to have 10-win seasons in each of his first two full years. He also had more wins  in his first two full seasons than any USC coach in history.
In his career with the Trojans he has led USC to three Pac-12 Championship games. Them being in  USC vs. Stanford,  USC vs. Stanford, and  USC vs. Oregon.
And in 2020, the year of unpredictability, Helton guided USC to a 5-1 season, No.21 Top 25 AP Poll ranking, and a shot at the Pac-12 title.
Despite these accomplishments over the past few years, Helton still receives criticism for not meeting the "standard" that Trojan fans "expect".
But is holding Helton to this "golden standard" when you have a team that finished with one loss in 2020 a fair assessment? We brought in Pac-12 Networks college football analyst, Yogi Roth to shed some insight.
"I think that for a lot of teams in this conference, especially the blue blood programs, historically, everyone's kind of on one year deals" said Roth.
"Last year, and I said this all year on the Pac-12 Network, context for USC was lost amid a lot of their tight games. They didn't play great against Arizona, Arizona State, I understand all that - but, context of what it is like to be in Los Angeles last year, pre-pandemic...ultimately, they didn't get into their own weight room until a week before they got to training camp. Utah was in there in I believe, May. It was a different dynamic."
Roth went on to say, "Is he on the warm seat? Totally. Does this team have a chance to win the table? Totally. If they don’t go 12-0, do I think he is done? No chance. Do I think they need to have a successful season by USC’s standard, which is win the south? Yea."
USC finished the 2021 recruiting cycle with one of the highest ranked recruiting classes in the nation. Landing DE Korey Foreman and CB Ceyair Wright definitely give Helton some major points when evaluating his job security.
Although the Trojans lost a few key pieces to their offense and defense to the 2021 NFL Draft, they return with a solid roster, and plenty of incoming 2021 talent. The Trojans will play three tough non-conference opponents next season in San Jose State, BYU, and Notre Dame, but avoid the tough Northern matchups in Washington and Oregon.
USC has the pieces, but the question remains can Helton put the puzzle together and hold onto his role as head coach for one more year?
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