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Considering Itself Outside the Title Picture, U.S.C. Fires Clay Helton

With the University of Southern California’s defense being gashed, its offense stagnant and its discipline lacking — the kicker was ejected on the opening kickoff — fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum showered the team with boos during a 42-28 thumping at the hands of Stanford, which entered Saturday’s game as a 17-point underdog.

Afterward, Clay Helton, the seventh-year coach, pleaded for calm.

“At the end of the season, see where we’re at,” he told reporters.

Wherever the Trojans are at the end of the season, Helton won’t be around to see it. He was fired Monday amid increasing fury from the school’s alumni and former players for whom Saturday wasn’t just a bad game, but another confirmation that the football program would never become a contender for a national title under Helton.

In fact, Athletic Director Mike Bohn, in announcing a national search for a new coach, said in a statement that the Trojans would be better off for the remainder of the season with Donte Williams, a 39-year-old cornerbacks coach who has never even served as a coordinator, as the interim head coach.

Bohn, who replaced Lynn Swann as the athletic director two years ago, said that despite adding resources for the football program since he arrived, it was clear even after two games — a win over San Jose State and the loss to Stanford — that U.S.C. was nowhere near becoming a national championship contender. “It is already evident that, despite the enhancements, those expectations would not be met without a change in leadership,” he said.

If Helton’s firing was a shock this early in the season, it is de rigueur for the Trojans, who have quite the history of bloodletting with football coaches.

Lane Kiffin was fired at the airport after being summoned from the team bus upon returning to Los Angeles following a defeat at Arizona State. Steve Sarkisian checked into rehab after getting fired in the middle of the season after repeatedly showing up drunk. And years ago, John Robinson returned home from Christmas shopping to find a message on his answering machine that he had been axed.

This decision, though, might have been made far earlier but for the whopping six-year contract extension Helton was awarded by Swann before the 2018 season — one that is expected to have paid him close to $5 million this season and runs for two more years.

The Trojans, who were carried to the Rose Bowl and the Cotton Bowl by quarterback Sam Darnold in Helton’s first two full seasons, have gone 19-14 since Helton signed the new contract. In last year’s pandemic-shortened season, the Trojans won their five conference games, but their hopes of sneaking into the College Football Playoff vanished when they were upset on their home field by Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

Helton never gained a foothold with U.S.C. fans, who were befuddled that the former athletic director Pat Haden — who like his successor Swann had been a star football player at the school — promoted Helton to interim coach after firing Sarkisian, and then gave him the permanent job. Haden had previously passed on another interim coach, choosing to not retain Ed Orgeron, who two years ago coached Louisiana State to a national championship.

Helton’s coaching staff was a revolving door, and each August he seemed to promise a more disciplined team. But even a rousing comeback victory over the conference rival U.C.L.A. last year was marred by Trojans taunting their rivals when the game ended — Helton falling to the turf trying to pull his players away.

The scene was a picture of a coach who did not have control of his team.

The cost of firing Helton will be considerable, presumably in the neighborhood of $15 million (the terms of his contract are not public because U.S.C. is a private school). But with a $315 million renovation of the Coliseum to be paid for in part through ticket sales, a considerable financial hit from the pandemic and declining attendance, there was also a cost to doing nothing.

On Monday, U.S.C. decided it was too much to bear.

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Boxer Manny Pacquiao Joins Filipino Presidential Race

MANILA — Former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has shuffled his way into the presidential race in the Philippines.

Mr. Pacquiao, the country’s best-known athlete, already holds a seat in the Senate but faces tough opposition as a presidential candidate. He was formerly the president of the PDP-Laban, the ruling party in the Philippines, before being ousted by a faction loyal to President Rodrigo Duterte, whose government Mr. Pacquiao has accused of corruption.

“To government officials who continue to rob government coffers, you will soon find others in jail,” Mr. Pacquiao warned on Sunday when he announced his candidacy. “Your time is up.”

The constitution bars Mr. Duterte from seeking a second six-year term in the May election. He has instead said he would run for vice president, in what some analysts have described as an attempt to avoid prosecution from the International Criminal Court. The I.C.C. last week announced an investigation into Mr. Duterte’s antidrug campaign, which critics have said was marred by extrajudicial killings.

Christopher Lawrence Go, a senator and Mr. Duterte’s longtime aide, was considered a party favorite for the presidential nomination, but he has yet to announce his candidacy. The president and the vice president are elected separately in the Philippines. If both men were to win, analysts said, Mr. Go could step aside for Mr. Duterte or let him rule the country by proxy, allowing him to escape prosecution.

Sara Duterte, the president’s daughter and the mayor of Davao City, said she would not seek the presidency if her father continued with his plans to run for vice president.

All candidate must submit their final filings in October.

Mr. Pacquiao, 42, signaled a break with Mr. Duterte earlier this year when he accused the government’s health department of corruption tied to the coronavirus pandemic and the purchasing of face masks and other protective equipment. The senator, who as a boxer won world titles in a record eight weight classes, was once an ally of Mr. Duterte, but recently became more critical of the president.

“We are ready to rise to the challenge of leadership,” Mr. Pacquiao said on Sunday when he accepted the nomination from his faction of the party.

“It is now time for the oppressed to win,” he said. “It is now time for the country to rise up from poverty.”

Aries Arugay, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said that he was not surprised by Mr. Pacquiao’s announcement but that the boxer may be in over his head. While Mr. Pacquiao is internationally recognized, “he is not ready” to be president, Mr. Arugay said, adding that Mr. Pacquiao had not passed any major legislation.

“His performance at the Senate was underwhelming,” he said. “However, that has not prevented people and politicians in the past from winning public office.”

Mr. Pacquiao has also been a vocal supporter of Mr. Duterte’s bloody antidrug campaign.

The Commission on Elections will have to settle the matter of the separate factions of the PDP-Laban before the final candidacies are filed in October. If Mr. Duterte’s faction emerges with a clear mandate, Mr. Pacquiao will likely step aside or run as an independent, chipping away at Mr. Duterte’s chances of regaining public office, Mr. Arugay said.

Melvin Matibag, the general secretary of PDP-Laban and the leader of the pro-Duterte wing of the party, said that Mr. Pacquiao was acting against the party’s wishes by announcing his candidacy.

The meeting on Sunday during which Mr. Pacquiao announced his candidacy was “not sanctioned nor called by the party’s chairman, President Duterte,” Mr. Matibag said Monday on national radio.

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In a Scheduling First, Pac-12 and SWAC Plan Home-and-Home Basketball Games

Pac-12 leaders similarly welcomed the home-and-home agreement, which Bernard Muir, Stanford’s athletic director, predicted would “open our eyes and our fan bases to an opportunity that we don’t traditionally get.”

“Certainly, there’s games that occur between Power 5s and H.B.C.U.s, but to do this across the board in both conferences, I think it’s really unique,” he said.

Dana Altman, Oregon’s coach since 2010, said he expected the trips to become important learning experiences for players in the two leagues. In an interview, he recalled a 1999 trip to Mississippi Valley State, in Itta Bena, Miss., with one of his Creighton teams as revelatory.

“It was good at the time, just that our guys went to a small campus in a very small town,” said Altman, who once had Florida A&M’s coach, Robert McCullum, on his staff at Oregon. “I think this trip will be good for our players, especially when they learn about the school and get some of the history of the school.”

Some SWAC schools, officials said, are considering playing their home games under the arrangement at bigger, off-campus arenas in their areas.

Although the SWAC commands large home crowds for football games — the most of any conference outside the Power 5 or Group of 5 leagues that dominate Division I football — it has struggled to draw audiences for men’s basketball. For the 2019-20 season, the league ranked 29th of the 32 Division I conferences in home basketball attendance, and its schools averaged fewer than 1,600 people per home game.

The Pac-12’s schools, by contrast, typically drew more than 7,000 fans per game.

Jason Cable, the athletic director at Alabama State, said U.S.C.’s appearance there in 2023 would be the university’s most significant nonconference game at home in memory. He said that the exposure and opportunity would be valuable to a university like Alabama State, the lone Division I school in Montgomery, and he predicted that those benefits would outweigh the value of a check that would be earned through another road trip.

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The Mannings Give TV Sports Yet Another Alternate Viewing Option

“We really lean into a specific driver for a little bit longer, and it creates a stronger bond between the driver and audience,” Flood said.

If the future of sports watching is fans choosing exactly the kind of announcer or experience they want, why not take the idea further? Amazon, which shows N.F.L. games on Thursdays and owns the rights for a number of different sports in Europe, already provides several different commentary streams for those games.

But Amazon also owns Twitch, the streaming platform most heavily associated with video games — where at any given moment you can find thousands of people, some of them professionals with a huge audience and some of them amateurs with no audience, commenting while playing video games or doing other things. Amazon has shown some games on Twitch with handpicked and hired hosts, but it is not a free-for-all open to thousands of different commentators.

For one, there is a rights issue. The N.F.L. sells Amazon the right to do very specific things, which does not include allowing anybody who wants to comment on games on Twitch, and therefore allow anybody to watch on Twitch and bypass traditional ways of viewing.

But even if they could do so, Marie Donoghue, the head of global sports at Amazon, is not sure they would want to. “We don’t know if infinite choice is what fans want,” she said. “We do think fans want great optionality, but we have to learn, because if you give fans infinite choice it may become overwhelming, and they get lost in the experience.”

Infinite may not be on the horizon then, but more certainly is.

Next year, when Amazon actually produces the N.F.L. games they show, there will almost certainly be more options. Meier said Triller was getting ready to “rock the world with a completely new concept” in boxing, while Rolón said ESPN would expand its alternate telecasts as technology allowed it to do so.

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