Clay Helton

On this episode of the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, USC Head Coach Clay Helton talks with George Wrighster about USC’s high expectations, and why he minds his own business when it comes to NIL deals. George and Ralph Amsden get into how BYU’s corporate walk-on scholarships will help make the rich even more rich, and which Pac-12 schools might benefit the most. ASU has put two more assistant coaches on paid leave, George and Ralph recap the entire ASU saga, and discuss whether Baylor’s lack of a punishment from the NCAA gives Sun Devil fans a legitimate gripe. The Pac-12 has announced its forfeit policy, and Wazzu head coach Nick Rolovich gave a non-answer when asked how it affects the conference. The guys discuss ESPN’s in depth story about former Wazzu Head Coach Paul Wulff’s 41-year quest to find answers regarding the disappearance of his mother, Delores. Finally, George and Ralph give their Pac-12 Breakout player candidates, answer listener questions, and react to other news and happenings around the conference.

Breakdown (2 hours, 40 minutes)


BYU Corporate Walk-On Scholarships Change the Game (11:15)

Should ASU’s fan base be outraged over Baylor’s slap on the wrist? An update on the coaching suspensions in Tempe (29:00)

The Pac-12 puts out its forfeit policy, our analysis (53:45)

An Interview with USC Head Coach Clay Helton (1:01:30)

Analysis of the Clay Helton interview, and the state of USC (1:24:18)

Recapping’s article about former Washington State Head Coach Paul Wulff’s missing mother being found in late 2020 (1:15:30)

George and Ralph select the four players they expect to become breakout stars in the Pac-12 in 2021 (2:01:20)

Hot topics and listener questions (2:11:05)

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Some of Clay Helton’s quotes from his interview with George Wrighster:

On championship expectations at USC:

“We all came here to win national championships. Any time you’re at a place that has eleven of them, and has those types of goals, it’s exciting. There’s a standard of excellence at USC that runs 125 years, and so each and every year you know coming into it that a Pac-12 championship opens the door to the playoff… You understand exactly what this place is and the standard that it is, it’s National Championships, and we welcome that. That’s why we fight like heck every day for the ability to get there.”

On dealing with criticism from the media and fans:

“For me, the way I’ve always handled things is this, I’ve always believed that a coaches job is to win games, to graduate our players, and to provide them a great college experience. The media’s job is to report and to give opinion, and if you’re winning games you get great reports, and if you’re losing games, it’s probably going the other way. The last portion is the fans. They bring the passion to the game, and if you’re winning it’s probably good passion, and if you’re losing it’s probably bad passion… To be able to grow numb to it, you understand that you don’t sit in this chair unless you have thick skin. You don’t worry about other people’s opinions, and you don’t worry about any negativity… your job is to help your young men win football games, help them win a championship, and that’s a full-time job. If your focus isn’t on that, you’re not doing your job, and you’re not helping your kids. I’ve never worried about outside noise, and I’ve never worried about the expectations, because I welcome them…”

On rebounding in the 2021 recruiting rankings:

“Two years ago, there was not a ton of attrition on our football team, we could only sign 13 men. So that brings you down. You don’t get a full class… you’re not going to be ranked extremely high. Plus, we decided to focus on the trenches and focus on our big men and a lot of time when you sign 11 of the 13 and they’re big men, it’s not a very sexy class. But we invested in the trenches..’

“Last year we had the availability to sign a full load. We actually signed 27 young men, both freshmen, as well as I thought we did a tremendous job in the transfer portal of addressing some immediate needs because of having seven young men leave for the NFL early off last year’s team…”

“All of the sudden you get increased numbers with increased resources, a great work ethic, and don’t forget about the production on the field. You go undefeated in the regular season last fall and be able to show your product- that produced a top 10 class…”

On potential recruiting rule-breaking within the conference during the pandemic:

“As far as being a head coach… one of our major responsibilities is to provide a culture of compliance… I’m very fortunate to be at USC for 12 years and to watch a guy named Dave Roberts, who did a tremendous job here compliance-wise, of setting up an organization that I believe is elite and lives as an example on a day-to-day basis, and I think that’s our responsibility across the board as far as coaches, is not only to win, but to win the right way. To remember that we all have last names, and representing your last name… is an important thing. But also to teach young people that doing the right thing is not always easy, but it’s always right. Our job is, as coaches, to have that culture of compliance and make sure things are right… so when you do hoist that trophy up, and that’s going to be my favorite time in life, that you hold that trophy up and you know, ‘man we just won a national championship, and we did it the right way.’ That’s a special thing, and I think that’s a responsibility of all coaches across the country.”

Have a take you’d like us to read and address on the show? Email us at and we’ll read your take on a future podcast.

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