Clay Helton named USC permanent football head coach

USC interim football coach Clay Helton was given the full-time job Monday, just days after the Trojans defeated cross-city rival UCLA to win the Pac-12 South Division.

Helton, who served as interim coach for seven games following the firing of Steve Sarkisian, guided the Trojans to a 5-2 record and a berth in the Pac-12 championship against Stanford. He has signed a multi-year agreement, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said.

"After weeks of searching the collegiate and pro ranks, interviewing candidates and speaking with head coaches, athletic directors, NFL executives and very knowledgeable football people, and after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searching for in a coach was right here in front of us,'' said Haden.

"Choosing a coach is an inexact science,'' Haden said. "In Clay's case, there is exactness. We have a man with unquestioned integrity. He is a fantastic person and he is real. Clay is a leader of young men.''

Helton, 43, was named USC's interim head coach Oct. 12. He had been serving as the team's offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. The Trojans finished the season in first place in the Pac-12 South Division, thanks to Saturday's defeat of UCLA at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

"I am extremely humbled and grateful to (USC President) Max Nikias, Pat Haden and the Trojan Family for having the opportunity to be the head football coach at the University of Southern California,'' Helton said.

"During my six years here, I have learned the standard of excellence that it takes to be a Trojan,'' Helton said. "I understand the expectations of this great university and welcome the challenge.''

Helton also served as USC's interim coach in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl, in which the Trojans defeated Fresno State. He previously served as an assistant for 10 seasons at Memphis, and was that team's interim coach for several months in 2006. He was also an assistant at Houston and Duke.

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