Rankman: AD Tabs Helton To Lead USC To One More 8-4 Season

Chris Dufresne

The FREAK OUT is official. USC has decided to keep Clay Helton so he can go 8-4 again next year and put the Trojans right back into the position they are in now. Freshly-minted AD Mike Bohn had a chance to rock the boat, or at least row it like PJ Fleck, but instead he punted from the opponent’s 25. USC, frankly, could have hired any one of us to do that. It is likely Bohn tried to bag a big name but couldn’t, so he fell back on nice-guy Helton without having to pay a $20 million buyout. Trojan Nation is handling this like a baby who just got a pacifier ripped out of his mouth, which is predictable and understandable. But now that Bohn has so cowardly capitulated, the question should be: what now? USC, if you get into the roster weeds, should have an excellent team next year. The Trojans also open against an Alabama team that might be the most beatable since Nick Saban lost his first year to Louisiana-Monroe. If USC wins that game it will be top-five after Labor Day. No one trusts Helton is the man to get this job done, but Trojan fans need to stop whining and put a good face forward. Losing hot-shot OC Graham Harrell would be a huge setback, so USC should lock him up tomorrow as Associate HC making clear he has a fast-track to replacing Helton next year. Forget Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops and focus on the new trend in college football: the rising star assistant. Stoops handed Oklahoma over to Lincoln Riley and Meyer handed Ohio State over to Ryan Day. This week, Washington promoted defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake to replace burned-out Chris Petersen. My gut tells me this is just the kind of attitude-adjustment needed in Seattle. Of course, by the time you read this, Harrell may have already moved on to head coach at UNLV, or become the new OC at Texas, and that would be a clean-up on Aisle 8 for Helton "The Final Chapter." USC HAS to get better on defense…fast. It has to get better on special teams and has to become more disciplined. Keeping Helton will require a semi-massive overhaul of the coaching staff and the overall philosophy. Simply hating Helton and Bohn isn’t going to change anything. And look: the chances of ANY coach at USC beating Alabama and Notre Dame next year was going to be problematic. You could almost hear Bob Stoops saying "Let Helton lose those two." USC made a decision, now it needs to put a plan in place. It needs to implement a 10-win threshold on Helton’s 2020 survival. Helton needs to know, this time, he’s gone if the ledger hits 3-3. USC blew it this year by not firing Helton after the Oregon debacle. Top brass allowed the Trojans to improve enough to make an easy decision more complicated. Bohn arrived, digressed, bobbled and failed in his first major public relations course. But that’s not my problem, that’s USC’s problem. Helton is a good enough man to deserve not being spat-upon by apoplectic Trojans who still think Pete Carroll is walking through the door. Whatever is going to happen at USC is still going to happen. It will play out accordingly, in due time, through gnashed teeth and the appropriate emojis. Talk to you all next year, probably, around this time.

1: Ohio State (12-0): Can advance to playoff by winning, or losing, the Big Ten Title. Or by using a personal day, or filing for Workman's Comp. (2)

2: LSU (12-0): Doesn’t need to beat Georgia but Mike the Tiger would like to “put an Animal Kingdom kind of scare” into UGA. (1)

3: Clemson (12-0): Hamlet Society declares Dabo “doth protest too much” for a guy with two national titles making $93 million. (3)

4: Georgia (12-1): Upset over LSU would knock Pac 12 and Big 12 champions into the College Football Playoff Consolation Bracket Challenge. (4)

5: Utah (12-1): “Let’s be honest, the country doesn’t want to see Finebaum in a speedo, or talking about a team he’s never seen play.” (5)

6: Oklahoma (11-1): Committee extremely impressed by team’s decision to implement “tackling” into the OK State game plan. (7)

7: Florida (10-2): By far the best top 10 team no one has talked about or cared about in four or five weeks. (8)

8: Baylor (11-1): Rankman jacks Bears six spots for beating Kansas to within an inch of its football life. (14)

9: Wisconsin (10-2): “No way we lose to Ohio State, 38-7, in rematch. We’re thinking more like 41-14.” (15)

10: Auburn (9-3): Girl who jumped into hedges after Alabama win rescued by team that saved Chilean coal miners. (NR)

11: Alabama (10-2): Committee drops Tide to 12, same number of players Tide had on punt return against Auburn. (6)

12: Penn State (10-2): Rose Bowl ready to extend a “Laurel & Hardy” welcome if Wisconsin doesn’t beat Ohio State. (10)

13: Notre Dame (10-2): Most years 10 wins would get Irish to major bowl. But we’re living in a different Camping World. (11)

14: Oregon (10-2): Ducks practicing in a corn field to get ready for crowd at half-packed Levi’s Stadium. (5)

15: Iowa (9-3): MLB.com has Hawkeyes slated for Holiday Bowl against the San Diego Padres. (16)

16: Minnesota (10-2): With playoff hopes gone team gathers to sing several verses of “Baby it’s cold outside.” (9)

Next Four Out

Michigan: “I’ll answer your questions, not your insults,” Jim yells at brother John over post-Thanksgiving leftovers.

Memphis: First thing Tigers plan to say to Cincinnati at this week’s AAC coin toss: “You again?”

Boise State: Hey committee, in case you’re interested: MWC owns nine wins over P5 teams this year.

USC: Flash forward one year: Trojans are 8-4 yet Helton and AD think program is on right track.

Next Four Never:

Rutgers: Schiano may have to answer to environmentalists for too much "wood chopping" in Big Ten Raid Forest.

Northwestern: NOT going 0-9 in Big Ten play with win over Illinois was a super way to end a sucky season.

UCONN: Eight players entered transfer portal this week shouting, “Scotty beam me OUT!”

Georgia Tech: Status of annual game vs. Georgia downgraded from “rivalry” to “game on schedule.”


Chris Dufresne