USC finished their second-worst season since 1961 with a defeat at home against Notre Dame to end the season.
Rumors swirled that coach Clay Helton would be canned soon after, but athletic director Lynn Swann released a statement on Twitter that USC would keep Helton. The consensus within the industry was that Helton was going to make some changes to his assistant coaching staff. He did just that within 48 hours.
OFFICIAL: Tee Martin, Kenechi Udeze and Ronnie Bradford are no longer on the USC football coaching staff.— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) November 27, 2018
Bryan Ellis has left the staff to pursue another opportunity. pic.twitter.com/crznSP6S8r
I'm hearing Tim Drevno will be only offensive coach to survive the purge #USC— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) November 27, 2018
Going back a month, this means at least five — and reportedly six — assistant coaches are out.
Following a loss to Arizona State early in the season, Helton told reporters he’d assess any staff changes at the end of the season, according to several who listened to his postgame press conference.
After that, he fired offensive line coach Neil Callaway and announced he was taking over play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Tee Martin:
This is interesting. I asked Clay Helton if he would make any big changes and he said not until after the season he would evaluate things. Wow. https://t.co/EhO9uFH0C5— Ryan Abraham (@insidetroy) October 29, 2018
Helton’s rationale for the play-calling switch :
“I felt it was an appropriate time to become more involved in the offense as we continue to develop our team for the future. Tee and I have had conversations about this decision and he was supportive. He has done a tremendous job here. He will stay involved with the offense as he remains the offensive coordinator, helps put together our practice and game plans and serves as my offensive eyes during games.”
Some brief dot-connecting suggests firing Callaway might not have been something Helton just up and decided to do on his own.
Last night, Clay Helton said he would evaluate potential changes at the end of the season.— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) October 29, 2018
Earlier this year, Helton said he meets with AD Lynn Swann on Mondays. Today is Monday, so it's reasonable to consider if the changes were prompted by Swann.
Firing OL coach Neil Callaway had to be the hardest thing Clay Helton's ever done since becoming #USC's head coach. Earlier this year when describing Callaway, Helton told us he's like a second dad to him. They are that close. https://t.co/CXyV80sdIX— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) October 29, 2018
So now Helton’s done what’s necessary on his end after being retained.
Whether this second wave of firing came again at Swann’s behest or Helton’s own volition, the moves have been made.
Whoever the new offensive coordinator is at USC he’ll have a blank slate with which to build an offense. He’ll have highly-rated QB JT Daniels to work with, even though his freshman season got held back by injuries to both himself and his supporting cast.
We’ll see if a new offensive staff gets more than one season to turn things around.