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USC’s interim football coach, Clay Helton, is the

team’s permanent head coach, the university announced today.

Helton, who served as interim coach for seven games following the firing

of Steve Sarkisian, guided the Trojans to a 5-2 record and a berth into the

Pac-12 Football Championship Game. He has now signed a multi-year agreement,

said USC Athletic Director Pat Haden.

“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,” Haden said. “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.”

Helton, 43, was named USC’s interim head coach on Oct. 12. He had been

serving as the team’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. The Trojans

finished the season in first place in the Pac-12 South Division.

“I am extremely humbled and grateful to (USC President) Max Nikias, Pat

Haden and the Trojan Family for having the opportunity to be the head

football coach at the University of Southern California,” Helton said.

“During my six years here, I have learned the standard of excellence

that it takes to be a Trojan,” Helton said. “I understand the expectations of

this great university and welcome the challenge.”