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Volume 25 No. 175
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USC AD Swann Questioned For Decision On Football Coach Helton

A banner flying over the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday implored Swann to make a change
Photo: getty images

USC AD Lynn Swann for the most part has "lived a sun-kissed and celebrated existence" since taking the role in '16, but that "all changed on Sunday, as Swann went against the wishes of both his fan base and the logic of recent history by keeping Clay Helton" as the school's football coach, according to Pete Thamel of YAHOO SPORTS. Swann "didn't hire Helton and has rarely showed any public affinity for having him as the coach." But Swann is now "stuck in lockstep with Helton in the wake of this 5-7 season, which puts him squarely in the crosshairs of a controversy born of his administrative ineptitude and lack of experience." For Swann, that means a "new role -- unpopular administrator with a fan base simmering with an anger level destined to manifest itself through attendance apathy." Swann's first major decision has "backfired spectacularly," as he "bid against himself this winter to keep Helton and extended him through 2023, showing no feel for the market nor particular care for USC's budget." Fans in L.A. have a "plethora of sports teams and can vote with their wallets" (, 11/25). In California, Joey Kaufman notes prior to USC's season finale on Saturday against Notre Dame, an airplane flew above campus and the L.A. Coliseum "towing a banner that read, 'Lynn Swann -- Please Fire Clay Helton!'" If there was "frustration among fans, there were also signs of apathy." Attendance at the Coliseum this season was the lowest since the '87 season, and USC "never drew above 60,000 for a game" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/26).

OUT OF TOUCH? In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes Swann "doesn't seem to understand the basic role" of an AD or the "modern soul of USC." In "failing to make a change in leadership after the Trojans' worst season in nearly 20 years and with the program at one of its lowest ebbs ever, Swann took the easy way out by keeping Helton, almost as if he had no real plan and no desire to dirty his hands concocting one." In "completely ignoring the scores of invested boosters who were demanding a change, Swann also showed a lack of appreciation for the passion that has helped fuel not only the greatness of the football program, but the success of the entire university." The program is "in freefall, yet he's not grasping the gravity of the situation" (L.A. TIMES, 11/26).