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Clay Helton hired as head coach at Georgia Southern

I mean, really? Seriously? This is going to happen? You couldn’t write a reality show on this premise, it’s too ridiculous.

Head coach of the USC Trojans Clay Helton, cheers on his team during warm up before the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

A man coming from Hollywood is now part of a script no one would want to buy, as former USC head coach Clay Helton is now hired as the head coach of the Georgia Southern Eagles.

USC? One of the iconic brands of college football, and one that recruits itself. Fight On, Song Girls, and the unending love and wallets of one of the world’s most glamorous cities in good times and bad.

Georgia Southern? One of the most niche brands of college football, with GATA and triple option offense as much a part of their culture as the simple jerseys with numbered helmets.

Helton appears to have extensive ties to the Georgia area ... wait a minute, upon further review, it turns out he has never coached east of Memphis, and left Bluff City as offensive coordinator in 2009. He went back to USC, where he’s been ever since. So, yeah, there’s that.

Jared Benko was hired in March 2020 from Mississippi State to be the AD in Statesboro. He has, generously, made quite a reach here to get a well-known name to come to the Sun Belt Conference. All of Benko’s professional experience is in the SEC, which makes this hire even more of a head-scratcher. He should be well-networked in that league, so why not hire a coach that wants to build something with the head job and knows the recruiting territory?

We don’t really know why Benko is doing this. It appears to be a terrible idea on its surface, but sometimes these things work out. And it’s hard not to root for Helton to succeed after seven years in the blender in South LA. But the entire university and its athletic director are putting themselves on notice with this decision.