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Oct 29, 2015 03:26 PM EDT

USC Football Head Coach Search: Clay Helton Poised to Force Himself Into the Conversation

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In the wake of Steve Sarkisian's termination, the USC Trojans are left with an interim head football coach in the middle of the season for the second time in three seasons.

Coming out from under harsh NCAA sanctions, USC seemed poised to make a run at the Pac-12 title and the College Football Playoff, but the Trojans have underperformed thus far. After getting out to a 3-1 start, USC lost to unranked Washington and reports that Sarkisian was battling an alcohol addiction began to surface.

USC then lost its first game with interim head coach Clay Helton, dropping to 3-3 and looking up in the Pac-12 South at an undefeated Utah team.

As SB Nation pointed out, USC is still supremely talented and has another full recruiting class incoming next season. And after beating Utah last week, USC is tied for second place in the division. If USC can bounce back from their rough stretch, Pat Haden may have to consider letting Helton coach the Trojans on a permanent basis.

As Bleacher Report noted, beating Utah (convincingly nonetheless) and losing to Notre Dame by just 10 points could wind up reflecting favorably on Helton, especially since the players seem "confident," "loose," and "having fun."

This sounds a lot like the point in the 2013 season when Lane Kiffin was fired after a 3-2 start punctuated by a 62-41 loss to Arizona State. That team went on to finish 6-2 under interim coach Ed Orgeron, who resigned ahead of the Las Vegas Bowl game when he found out he would not contend for the permanent head coaching job.

Helton stepped up to coach USC to a win in the game and now finds himself leading the team once again.

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