USC fires head football coach Clay Helton

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Clay Helton committed a “Cardinal” sin. It cost the USC coach his job.

Trojan athletic director Mike Bohn announced Monday Helton has been fired. The move comes two days after USC was ripped by Stanford, 42-28, at Los Angeles Coliseum.

“Clay is one of the finest human being I have met in this industry, and he has been a tremendous role model and mentor to our young me,” Bohn said, in a statement announcing the dismissal. “We appreciate his many years of service to our university and wish him nothing but the very best.”

Helton went 46-24 as the Trojans coach, including a pair of interim runs.

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The Trojans were expected to be strong contenders for a Pac-12 championship.

The loss came to a Stanford team that had been downed by Kansas State in its opener.

The interim head coach will be associate head coach Donte Williams.

“This season is just getting started and we have the opportunity to really do something special with this team and this program,” Bohn said. “Donte is an experienced and well-respected coach who is renowned for his ability to develop relationships with student-athletes, and I appreciate his willingness to take on this challenge. We still have control of our own destiny in the Pac-12 Conference, a tremendously talented group of student-athletes, and complete faith in the phenomenal assistant coaches and outstanding support staff in the John McKay Center.”

Bohn also announced that USC will quickly launch a national search for the next head coach.

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“Our university and its leadership are committed to winning national championships and restoring USC football to glory,” Bohn said. “I accept the enormous responsibility I have to our current and former players and the entire Trojan Family to live up to our incredible heritage.”