Trojans' Clay Helton fires defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, 3 others

Newly appointed USC Trojans coach Clay Helton cleaned house one day after his team's 41-22 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game.

Helton said Sunday that he had fired defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, defensive line coach Chris Wilson, defensive backs coach Keith Heyward and offensive line coach Bob Connelly. They will not remain with the program in the lead up to the Holiday Bowl against Wisconsin on Dec. 30.

"With the coaches we have on staff and with our graduate assistants, we feel more than confident in doing a great job with this bowl game," Helton said.

Helton opted to retain the four remaining assistants: receivers coach Tee Martin, quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo, running backs coach/special teams coordinator Johnny Nansen and linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Peter Sirmon.

Martin, who, like Helton, was hired by Lane Kiffin and retained by Steve Sarkisian, is a heavy favorite to be named the Trojans' offensive coordinator -- the role Helton held until he was promoted to head coach. Helton remained the Trojans' playcaller after being named head coach this year but said he will not call plays next season.

Asked if athletic director Pat Haden gave any sort of mandate for staff changes, Helton said no.

"This was entirely my decision," Helton said. "And one thing I appreciate about Mr. Haden is he's given me the right to run this football team exactly with the vision that I see, and I really appreciate that as a head coach. This is my decision as we move forward."

Helton gave no time frame as to when he expects to make new hires.

"I'm going to be looking at all avenues and several coaches, and I'm not going to rush into this," Helton said. "You get the opportunity to be the coach at USC one time, and I'm going to bring in the coaches that I feel can help us toward a championship."

Former USC assistants Clancy Pendergast, currently a linebackers coach with the San Francisco 49ers, and Ed Orgeron, the defensive line coach for the LSU Tigers, were two names Helton was asked about specifically. He refrained from commenting on either.

In Pac-12 play this season, the Trojans ranked fourth in yards allowed per game (401.3), fourth in yards allowed per play (5.82), fourth in scoring defense (26.7 points per game) and sixth in points allowed per drive (2.2).