Clay Helton Named Finalist For Bryant Coach Of Year Award|
Dec. 14, 2016
Clay Helton, who has guided USC to a Rose Bowl berth, has been named one of 9 finalists for the 2016 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, presented annually by the American Heart Association and Marathon Oil Corporation.
The winner will be announced live on Jan. 11, 2017 during the awards banquet in Houston at the Toyota Center. It will be broadcast live on FOX College Sports.
Helton is joined as a finalist are Paul Chryst (Wisconsin), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan), James Franklin (Penn State), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Mike MacIntyre (Colorado), Nick Saban (Alabama), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson).
After Helton’s Trojans started off 1-3 in 2016 in his first full season as head coach (all 3 losses were to AP Top 25 teams away from home), USC went on an 8-game winning streak (its longest since 2008-09) to rise to a No. 9 national ranking and earn a berth in the Rose Bowl (finishing second in the Pac-12 South at 7-2) while playing a schedule ranked among the 10 most difficult in the nation. USC was perfect (6-0) at home for the first time since 2008. His Trojans beat both teams (Washington and Colorado) that played in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Under Helton’s guidance in 2016, Adoree’ Jackson was named the Thorpe Award winner, a unanimous All-American first teamer, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Hornung Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy. Sam Darnold was an O’Brien Award finalist and Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler made the All-Pac-12 first team (Banner was an All-American first teamer). USC’s offense had at least 400 total yards in its last 9 games, while its defense held 7 opponents to season lows in points.
The 44-year-old Helton is 15-7 as the Trojan head coach (9-3 in 2016, with wins over No. 4 Washington and No. 21 Colorado, 5-4 in 2015, with wins over a pair of Top 25 teams, and 1-0 in 2013).
Helton joined the USC staff in February of 2010 as the quarterbacks coach after spending 10 seasons as an assistant at Memphis. He added the passing game coordinator role in 2012 and became the offensive coordinator in 2013.
After starting the 2015 season as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Helton was named USC’s permanent head coach on Nov. 30 of that year, dropping the interim head coach title he had held since Oct. 12 (for USC’s final 7 regular season games).
The American Heart Association’s Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award is the only college coaching honor presented after all bowl games are concluded. It is voted on by the National Sports Media Association, formerly known as National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.