Faith, Family and Football. In that order. No denying this man’s focus. He is as consistent as the sun rising in the morning. One of the most successfully first term head coaches in the history of USC based on his wins and losses but is the most studied head coach for all the wrong reasons. Anyone else at any other school would have contract extension hype around the first two years but no Coach Clay Helton. He is surrounded by question marks.
The media can’t figure him out yet Faith, Family and Football is clear as a bell with this man and his belief. He has his dream job. He sounds corny at times with his passion and love of all things USC Football. His players rally around him and at times that too is looked at with a stern eye by outsiders and the media.
The late owner of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis, used to say, “Just Win Baby” and the Raiders did that many times. They were perennial leaders at the top of the league and owned the early decades of the NFL for many years. It wasn’t always pretty but win they did and winning ugly never bothered the faithful and Raider Nation.
The USC football program under Coach Clay Helton is winning. Started out shaky as hell on a tough opener in Arlington, TX but then did this little baby take off in week five and beyond. They were the team that no one wanted to play. They went from 1-3 to number 3 in the country and won what many are saying was the greatest Rose Bowl of all time. A thriller against Penn State.
Clay Helton is a QB coach from his training. We have Sam Darnold in control and he too ended last year as the darling of the nation and all eyes for him to walk away with the Heisman. Didn’t quite work out that way but look how he progressed. Look how the entire team closed out. Never dominated anyone. Never put teams away but each week they got healthy and each week they eliminated one more obstacle on their way to the PAC-12 Championship and now a seat at the table to face Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl, December 29th.
So how does a coach go 21-3 winning AP Coach of the year for the PAC-12 (now thats another story from within the PAC-12’s choice of David Shaw) be put on the defensive in the eyes of the media and many of the loyal fanbase. Are we all delusional to the point where perfection and National Championship aspirational goals are counter productive to building a Program in itself? Who would coach at a school that is quietly seeking your replacement after winning the Rose Bowl and now the PAC-12 Championship heading to the Cotton Bowl?
The media and many in the fan base want the next Nick Saban. But what if Coach Helton is just as good at the end of next year and improves to the point of making the playoffs in his third year? Is that good enough? Hell at that point the sad irony could be him saying goodbye because the offers will be there for him to decide if he improves over this year in 2018 and makes the playoffs. It’s college football so one never knows and if this year taught us anything it taught us that injuries can be demoralizing and a no bye 12 consecutive game schedule should never be accepted by the administration going forward.
So what do you think? Is he slowly but surely gaining on the legacy of some of the greatest coaches of all time given his first two years now almost complete? Do we judge on wins and losses? You be the judge. Since we all are judges in bloggerville…