USC has decided to move forward with head coach Clay Helton after months of speculation that he could be replaced by a high-profile name, athletic director Mike Bohn announced Wednesday.
USC started 3-3 this season, and it appeared Helton's days were numbered. Former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was rumored to be among the candidates to replace the embattled Helton, though Meyer continued to rule out a return to coaching.
However, the Trojans rallied to finish 8-4, in large part due to the emergence of freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, giving Helton a chance to keep his job.
"I appreciate the support from President Folt and Mike Bohn. It is abundantly clear that we now have the support, resources, and tools to build a championship team," said Helton, per Adam Grosbard of the O.C. Register. "We know the expectations of our fans are high, as they should be.
"Those are the same expectations I have for myself and that our staff and team have as well. Our future is bright. We have a young team on the verge of doing something special."
The 47-year-old - who took over the permanent role in 2016 - went 21-6 over his first two seasons, winning the Rose Bowl in 2016 and the Pac-12 the following year.
However, USC limped to a disappointing 5-7 record in 2018, putting Helton firmly on the hot seat entering this campaign.
If Bohn - who was hired to replace former AD Lynn Swann in November - fired Helton and his staff, it would've cost the Trojans more than $20 million in buyouts, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.
Several weeks ago, Yahoo Sports reported that Helton's return could involve major changes to USC's coaching staff, most notably defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and special teams coach John Baxter.