The University of Southern California boasts one of the most attractive football-coaching jobs in the country, but Clay Helton has kept it off the market.
Trojans athletic director Pat Haden announced Monday that Helton, who has been serving as the team’s interim coach, had signed a multi-year deal to become USC’s permanent coach.
“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,” Haden said in a statement.
“He is our choice because we believe he can win Pac-12 and national championships here. Clay Helton is the right man at the right time for the USC football program,”
ESPN reported that the contract is for three years, with a two-year option that vests if Helton meets certain performance goals, but Haden said at a Monday press conference that all five years are guaranteed.
Helton took over for Steve Sarkisian in October, and led USC to a 5-2 record and the PAC-12 South division title. The Trojans clinched their spot in the conference-championship game by beating UCLA 40-21 on Saturday. They face Stanford in this weekend’s title game.
“I am extremely humbled,” Helton said in a statement. “During my six years here, I have learned the standard of excellence that it takes to be a Trojan. I understand the expectations of this great university and welcome the challenge. I am so proud to have the chance to lead what I feel is the pinnacle of college football and to represent our Trojan Family.”