A report by Yahoo’s Pete Thamel on Tuesday afternoon indicated that Clay Helton may be the new man in charge of the Georgia Southern football program sooner than later.
Sources: Clay Helton has emerged as the top target for the Georgia Southern head coaching job. Expect a deal to be finalized in the near future. https://t.co/QVJ1OlHSjA— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) November 2, 2021
Helton went 45-26 as the head coach of the University of Southern California before being let go earlier this year following a blowout loss at the hands of a middling Stanford team.
The former USC head coach does have a play-calling background, having served as offensive coordinator of the Trojans prior to becoming the head coach, an area that clearly lacked in previous hires of Tyson Summers and the recently departed Chad Lunsford, as each churned through multiple coordinators in their tenures.
Lunsford compiled a 28-21 record in just under four full seasons as head coach for the Eagles. However, offensive success was somewhat of a struggle for Lunsford, especially during the final year and a half of his tenure, switching offensive coordinators entering 2021 — but the Eagles points per game fell in each of his seasons, culminating with Lunsford’s dismissal four games into this year, with the team averaging an anemic 16.5 points per contest at the time he was fired.
Helton was named the permanent coach of the Trojans following the departure of Steve Sarkisian from the program in 2015. In his seven years at the helm for USC, Helton led the team to a pair of bowl wins in the Rose and Cotton bowls, while losing three additional bowl games.
Southern Cal did finish 2016 with a top-three ranking in the AP Poll, so at the very least Helton has some background as a successful head coach.
Predictably, some are a little weary of the potential of Helton becoming the Eagles’ next head coach given the team’s historical success with the triple option. This hiring would almost certainly close the door on that offensive scheme for good given Helton’s track record.
Regardless of what some think of the hire, it is more important than ever for new athletic director Jared Benko to nail the next head coach of Southern, as the program finds itself in danger of winning just two games in a season twice in the last five years.