Former USC coach Clay Helton hired to helm Georgia Southern

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Southern hired former Southern California coach Clay Helton on Tuesday, seven weeks after USC fired him.

Helton was the first coach fired this season, and was two games into his eighth season at USC. The 49-year-old was 46-24 with the Trojans, including a Rose Bowl victory after the 2016 season and a Pac-12 title in 2017.

“I am very humbled to be named the head football coach at Georgia Southern University,” Helton said in a statement. “The passion and love its alumni and fans have for the University are second to none. Georgia Southern has always prided itself on the highest levels of success, and I welcome those expectations.”

Georgia Southern fired coach Chad Lunsford after a 1-3 start to the season. The Eagles (2-6, 1-4 Sun Belt) are last in the Sun Belt’s East Division heading into Saturday’s game against No. 21 Coastal Carolina.

Georgia Southern won six national titles when it competed in Division I-AA, before moving up to the NCAA’s top college football tier in 2014 and joining the Sun Belt. For years, the Eagles were known for their triple-option offenses under coaches like Paul Johnson and Willie Fritz.

Helton was offensive coordinator at USC before being named interim coach when Steve Sarkisian was let go during the 2015 season, and eventually promoted to head coach. He brought stability to a program that had gone through almost a decade of turmoil.

The Trojans had two good seasons with Sam Darnold at quarterback to start Helton’s tenure. But he couldn’t sustain the success, and for more than three years his status at USC seemed tenuous. After a blowout loss at home to Stanford on Sept. 11, Helton was fired.

“Clay is renowned for not only his coaching abilities but for the person that he is,” Georgia Southern athletic director Jared Benko said in a statement. “He’s an elite offensive mind who has produced record-setting offenses and high NFL Draft picks everywhere he’s coached.”

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff


CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.