While USC’s undergoing the search for a new athletic director and with head coach Clay Helton’s job security up in the air, university president Carol Folt and Board of Trustees chairman Rick Caruso were guests at Tuesday’s practice.
“They’ve been great,” said Helton. “[Folt’s] support and Mr. Caruso’s support [have] always been there and I’m appreciative...Obviously this is a production-based business and you want wins. But those people have always been great to me and most importantly, they’ve always been great to our student-athletes.”
Helton added that it’s business as usual for his team, even with all the outside speculation about his future with the program. At the moment, they’re focused on preparing for Arizona State and finishing the season strong as a whole.
“Like I told them in the team meeting, ‘Think about who you see the most in life right now. Is it your family or the people in this room?’” said Helton. “I said, ‘You know what, I spend four nights away from my family each week. If you add that up it’s almost two years’ worth of days [in his tenure at USC]. This is our family right here, so let’s focus on us.’”
Following its trip to Tempe, USC faces Cal on the road and then UCLA in the Coliseum to close out the year. At 5-4, the Trojans need one more win to become bowl-eligible.
A Utah loss would get USC back into the Pac-12 championship conversation, as the Trojans tumbled from the top spot of the South in the defeat to Oregon last Saturday. They no longer control their own destiny in the conference, but instead must win out while relying on top teams to drop the ball.
“I mean, it’s out of our control,” said freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, who threw three interceptions in the 56-24 loss. “So we just have to win the next game and focus on that. Hopefully, something works out. But at the end of the day, we just have to control what we can control.”
The Trojans are focused on cleaning up the turnovers and red zone woes that have plagued the team for the better part of two seasons. But most outside the program are more concerned with what’s happening off the field.
Former Florida and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is widely rumored to be a possible candidate to succeed Helton, if his time at USC is indeed coming to an end. Florida State’s firing of Willie Taggert Sunday signals time could be of the essence in the race for Meyer’s service.
Multiple outlets reported Friday that a deal for Cincinnati’s Mike Bohn to replace Lynn Swann as USC’s athletic director is close to being finalized. As of Tuesday, no formal announcements have been made. Annenberg Media will provide updates as this story unfolds.