If It's Friday, It's Time For A USC Notes Column
With USC playing Notre Dame on Saturday, Clay Helton decided to compare himself to Irish coach Brian Kelly.
What a mistake that was for Helton. The USC coach talked about how Notre Dame went 4-8 in 2016 and bounced back enough to be undefeated this season and contending for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
But Helton left out a few details.
Kelly took Notre Dame to the BCS title game in 2012.
When Notre Dame went 4-8, Kelly hired a new offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special teams coach and strength coach and brought 17 new staff members in the football staff.
Can you imagine Helton firing that many people? If he did it would come on someone else's orders.
Remember this: When Helton took over for Steve Sarkisian, he kept Sarkisian's secretary and strength coach. Those are usually the first two people who get replaced when a coach takes over a program. Paul Hackett did it. Pete Carroll did it. Lane Kiffin did it. Sarkisian did it.
Helton did not do it.
Even if Helton did overhaul his staff, does he have the personality to restore the discipline needed to become an elite program? No.
Clay Helton is not a leader of men. He never has been.
Unlike Kelly, Helton never got a title game before his losing season. USC came close in 2016 but Helton bottled it by waiting too long to start Sam Darnold over Max Browne. When I harped on this, USC fans would always complain I needed to move on because the Trojans would simply get into the College Football Playoff the next two seasons.
How did that work out?
For years, the Notre Dame club of Los Angeles hosted a big luncheon in downtown Los Angeles the day before the USC-Notre Dame game at the Coliseum. The head coaches from both teams would attend. But the event was discontinued.
Why was USC so inept stopping the run against UCLA? I asked an NFL coach: "A lot of it starts before the ball is snapped. It's all on where your eyes are. They don't know where to look."
The worst part of the UCLA game was how bad USC looked on the offensive and defensive lines. Notre Dame is way better than UCLA in both areas.
Last weekend, it finally occured to me how to describe JT Daniels: Just good enough to get you beat. This is why I compare him to Rob Johnson.
If Clay Helton is not fired by Monday, it probably won't happen.
If you have read Helton is coming back, just remember if USC gets demolished by Notre Dame, that will have an impact. So things can change over the weekend.