USC names Clay Helton as head football coach

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California hired Clay Helton as its permanent coach, removing the interim tag after he guided the team to a division title since taking over for Steve Sarkisian.

Helton, 43, was offensive coordinator when Sarkisian was fired after five games. The Trojans have gone 5-2 since and beat UCLA on Saturday to clinch the Pac-12 South and a spot in the conference championship game.

Athletic director Pat Haden said Helton signed a multiyear deal.

“After weeks of searching the collegiate and pro ranks, interviewing candidates, and speaking with head coaches, athletic directors, NFL executives, and very knowledgeable football people, and after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searching for in a coach was right here in front of us,” said Haden. “Choosing a coach is an inexact science. In Clay’s case, there is exactness. We have a man with unquestioned integrity. He is a fantastic person and he is real. Clay is a leader of young men. He is a terrific communicator. He brings high character, stability, continuity, consistency, toughness and resiliency to our program."

The Trojans will face Stanford on Saturday.