Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Less than two months after he was fired from USC, Clay Helton was announced Tuesday as the next coach in Georgia Southern. Helton, 49, replaces Chad Lunsford, who was sacked on September 26 after a 1-3 start to the 2021 season. Helton’s deal will be for five seasons to nearly $ 800,000 a year, according to Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, and he is expected to immediately start working on tasks such as recruiting and building staff.

Helton was fired from USC on September 13, two days after Trojan horses lost at home to Stanford after starting the season to win the Pac-12 South. He was two games inside his seventh season as USC’s head coach. He went 46-24 (36-13 Pac-12) during his tenure after taking over for Steve Sarkisian midway through the 2015 season. Helton had been employed at USC since 2010.

Although he has never trained in the Sun Belt, Helton has ties to the southeast. Helton began his playing career in Auburn, working for Duke and Memphis before arriving in Los Angeles. During Helton’s childhood, his father was an assistant to the Florida, Miami and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Kevin Whitley, who was the cornerbacks coach under Lunsford, has served as interim coach since Lunsford’s dismissal. Whitley is 1-3 in that role. With a record of 2-6, Georgia Southern will have to win its last four games to reach a fourth bowl game in a row.

Lunsford took over as Georgia Southern’s interim coach for the last six games of the 2017 season, ending his tenure with an overall record of 28-21, including a 17-14 mark in the Sun Belt game. Georgia Southern has just joined FBS ahead of the 2014 season, but the program holds a strong record at the FCS level with six national championships.

Now let’s look at some important takeaways from Georgia Southern that cater to Clay Helton to lead his football program forward.

Possibility of redemption

With his 49, Helton still has time to rebuild his head coaching career and get another big job, and Georgia Southern is a solid place to retrain. The program has a good history and competes in the Sun Belt, which has sent several coaches on to power conference jobs over the past decade. Among the most recent are West Virginia coaches Neal Brown (Troy) and Missouri’s Elijah Drinkwitz (Appalachian State). Current Sun Belt coaches Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina) and Billy Napier (Louisiana) are also potential candidates for Power Five openings in this upcoming hiring cycle.

Helton is considered one of the cutest guys in the coaching profession and leaves USC with less baggage than his two most recent predecessors, Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. Both were also fired from USC in the middle of the season and are now in attractive jobs with Sarkisian in his first season in Texas and Kiffin in his second with Ole Miss. Helton could position himself for a similar type of opportunity with a couple of good seasons leading the Eagles.

Moving on from the opportunity

Helton’s hiring is likely to signal that Georgia Southern will move away from the option-based attack that has defined the program over the years. Its best days as an FCS program came with the opportunity, and so did some of its recent success. The Eagles won nine games in 2014 and 2015 – their first two seasons as an FBS team – with strong election themes under then-coach Will Fritz, and they won 10 games in 2018 under Lunsford, running the ball 49.1 times per game. match.

It looks like Georgia Southern would have been willing to stick with the option-based offensive if it could have landed the right coach. Former Georgia Tech, Navy and Georgia Southern head coach Paul Johnson, one of the modern faces of the option, declined when the school was contacted by the school about a return, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz. Johnson won back-to-back NCAA Division 1-AA national titles at Georgia Southern in 1999 and 2000, and was also the program’s offensive coordinator under a few titles in the 1980s.

The Eagles have thrown football more often this season than in anyone else since joining the FBS series. They have an average of 23.5 delivery attempts per. games, but still run it almost twice as often as they throw it. In contrast, USC threw football 44.2 times per game. match last season under Helton, while only running 30.7 times per game. match.

Lead on the recruitment path

Helton’s early hiring gives him a chance to recruit for Georgia Southern well in advance of the early signing period, which begins Dec. 15. The early signing period, introduced in 2017, has changed the dynamics of the sport by changing the signing date of most leads from February to December, making it difficult for coaches starting new jobs to save their first classes.

Helton needs the extra time to get on track in the pursuit of prospects because Georgia Southern has only two commitments in the 2022 class, according to 247Sports. Equally important now in an age of mass transfers is that Helton will be able to land players entering the transfer portal when the regular season ends for most teams later this month.

The transition away from an option-based system can be a cumbersome process due to the unique staff the scheme requires. But with all players now allowed to switch once without sitting a season, Helton’s early hiring will give him a chance to fill up on transfers, which could help him implement a new system right away without being too depending on beginners or uncomfortable.

By Victor

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