Helton to return as USC coach in 2019

USC Trojans athletic director Lynn Swann, coach Clay Helton, Niki Nikias and president C.L. Max Nikias pose with the Leishman Trophy after the 103rd Rose Bowl against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Rose Bowl on Jan. 2, 2017.Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Under Helton’s watch, the Trojans recorded their first losing season since 2000 following a 5-7 campaign.

“It is my firm belief that we have a good team returning next year and a solid foundation in place, and that Clay Helton is a good coach,” Swann said in a statement.

“Let me be clear to everyone, our players, our recruits and our fans. Clay Helton is our head coach and he will continue to be our head coach.

“I am a strong advocate of consistency within a program, sticking by a leader, supporting them and helping them and their team improve.”

Helton guided USC to the Pac-12 Championship Game during his first season in 2015, the Rose Bowl title the following year and the Pac-12 championship in 2017. He owns a 26-13 mark in three full seasons as coach.

“We see top programs across the country have down years and the fans want to change coaches,” Swann said. “In fact, it happened a few years ago with yesterday’s opponent (Notre Dame), but that administration remained committed to their head coach, who made some key changes, worked hard to fix things and got his team to improve markedly. That will happen here at USC.”

Helton expressed confidence in his job security after the Trojans’ 24-17 setback to the Fighting Irish on Saturday.

“USC is about championships, it deserves championships, and we did not do that,” Helton said. “Fact of the matter is that this year we did not get the job done. It does not mean we can’t. I know and believe in the guys that are in that locker room and that we will go back and create a disciplined football team that executes at the highest level.

“We can compete with anybody in the country with the men in that locker room. It will be my job and my task going forward to get us to execute, be disciplined, and win championships. That is what is expected and that is what is deserved.”