USC sticking with coach Clay Helton after missing bowl game

Notre Dame holds off USC (2:31)

Ian Book throws for 352 yards, two touchdowns and an interception as the Fighting Irish beat USC 24-17. (2:31)

Embattled USC coach Clay Helton will return for his fourth season, USC athletic director Lynn Swann announced.

The Trojans finished the season 5-7, their first losing year since 2000.

"It is my firm belief that we have a good team returning next year and a solid foundation in place, and that Clay Helton is a good coach," Swann said in a statement. "Let me be clear to everyone, our players, our recruits and our fans. Clay Helton is our head coach and he will continue to be our head coach.

"I am a strong advocate of consistency within a program, sticking by a leader, supporting them and helping them and their team improve."

Helton took over the program as the interim coach in 2015 after Steve Sarkisian was fired. After guiding the team to the Pac-12 championship game that season, he led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl title in 2016 and the Pac-12 title in 2017.

"We see top programs across the country have down years and the fans want to change coaches," Swann said. "In fact, it happened a few years ago with yesterday's opponent [Notre Dame went 4-8 in 2016], but that administration remained committed to their head coach, who made some key changes, worked hard to fix things and got his team to improve markedly. That will happen here at USC."

After the Trojans' 24-17 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, Helton's job security was a hot topic of discussion. Before the game, a plane with a banner calling for his removal flew over the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but Helton spoke at his news conference with a confidence that indicated he was not worried that his job was in jeopardy.

"USC is about championships, it deserves championships, and we did not do that," Helton said. "Fact of the matter is that this year we did not get the job done. It does not mean we can't. I know and believe in the guys that are in that locker room and that we will go back and create a disciplined football team that executes at the highest level.

"We can compete with anybody in the country with the men in that locker room. It will be my job and my task going forward to get us to execute, be disciplined, and win championships. That is what is expected and that is what is deserved."

He indicated he would consider making changes to his staff.

The Trojans are 26-13 in Helton's three full seasons as coach. They were 5-4 with Helton after he replaced Sarkisian in 2015 and also won the Las Vegas Bowl in 2013 as he served as the interim coach.