Ask Farrell: Will keeping Helton help or hurt USC recruiting?

Adam Gorney and Mike Farrell, Rivals.com
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There has been speculation for the last few weeks whether coach Clay Helton would be back at USC next season.

There was a report that the two sides were parting ways. Wrong. There was a story that the USC brass was giving Helton until Thursday to find a new job. Wrong. There were rumors about going after Urban Meyer and James Franklin and Bob Stoops and all kinds of other pipe dreams.

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None of that turned out.

Instead, Helton will be back next season for the Trojans and there will definitely be a solid base of talent on both sides of the ball. So far as USC’s coach, Helton is 40-21 and he won a Rose Bowl a few seasons ago.

With all the uncertainty, questions and turmoil this season, the Trojans have compiled one of their worst recruiting classes in Rivals history dating back to 2002.

USC is currently No. 70 nationally in the team recruiting rankings with only 11 commits and just two four-star pledges. The Trojans are No. 11 in the Pac-12 rankings which is completely unheard of in Rivals history.

And in-state recruiting has not gone well this cycle. Five-star quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei is off to Clemson. Five-star quarterback Bryce Young, once committed to USC, has pledged to Alabama. USC doesn’t have a commit among the top 17 prospects in the state of California’s 2020 class.

RELATED: USC announces Clay Helton will remain as head football coach


CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals100 | Position | Team | State

Is USC staring at another complete year of uncertainty from top recruits? The issue heading into this cycle is that many elite players knew Helton was on the hot seat and some expected him to be replaced, so they either committed elsewhere or decided to hold off on making any decisions.

But now 2020 prospects down the stretch to the early signing period and top-notch California recruits in 2021 face the same fate.

We ask Rivals National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell whether keeping Helton, and showing him some support, could actually be good for recruiting in the final weeks here and into the 2021 class or if this spells more concern over the next recruiting cycle?

FARRELL'S TAKE

“This is a horrible decision, plain and simple. From a recruiting standpoint, things are going horribly and essentially a one-year stay of execution won’t change that. Most of recruiting is done when football is not being played so now Helton has to sell 2020 and 2021 recruits that he will be there long term and that the last two seasons — 5-7 and 8-4 — are not the new norm at USC. The Trojans will get some big recruits, it’s hard not to, but more and more of the elite prospect in California will continue to leave the state now. It’s baffling.”

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