Advertisement
Sports

The Sports Report: USC will keep Clay Helton

Clay Helton
Clay Helton will remain.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

USC FOOTBALL

After months of rampant speculation surrounding the future of USC’s football program, a new athletic director and new president have opted to stick with the status quo.

The university’s new leadership announced Wednesday that Clay Helton, whose uneven tenure as head coach saw the Trojans reach the Rose Bowl in 2016 and win the Pac-12 Conference title in 2017 before stumbling the last two seasons, will remain USC’s coach for the foreseeable future.

Advertisement

The controversial decision to keep Helton comes on the heels of an 8-4 campaign marred by injury and inconsistency in which the Trojans struggled to find a foothold even while managing for months to stay within striking distance of winning the Pac-12 South Division.

“I am pleased to let you know Coach Helton will continue to be our head coach,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn wrote in a letter to athletic department supporters. “His commitment to our student-athletes and to leading with integrity is vital to restoring our championship program, which is the goal for all of our teams. Heading into 2020, Coach Helton and I will work together to take a hard look at all aspects of the football enterprise and will make the tough decisions necessary to compete at a championship level.”

Read more

Bill Plaschke: USC is keeping Clay Helton. What is Mike Bohn thinking?

Advertisement

Fan reaction: USC fans contacted wrong Mike Bohn to get Clay Helton fired

USC President Carol L. Folt stands behind Mike Bohn’s decision on Clay Helton

LAKERS

On Wednesday night, the Lakers (19-3) ensured they would come out of their latest road trip with a winning record. They beat the Utah Jazz 121-96 a night after beating the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers’ trip will finish in Portland on Friday.

Frank Vogel cautioned before the game that Utah wasn’t what its record suggested. The Jazz had just come off a road trip in which they had lost four out of the five games, but entered Wednesday 8-1 at home.

The Lakers took them seriously enough to blow them out.

Anthony Davis scored 26 points on nine-of-11 shooting and blocked three shots. He rested for most of the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. LeBron James also exited early, having scored 20 points with 12 assists.

Kyle Kuzma, one of the two players most affected by a cold permeating the locker room, hit three-pointers in the final seconds of both the first and second quarters. He finished with 13 points and a team-high four steals.

Advertisement

The game closed with one familiar sight for the Lakers — the home fans leaving while interloping Lakers fans chanted for them.

KINGS

John Carlson scored twice, Ilya Samsonov stopped 22 shots and the Washington Capitals beat the Kings 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Tom Wilson also had a goal as the Capitals have won five in a row for the second time this season. They won six straight Oct. 25-Nov. 9.

Blake Lizotte had a goal and Jonathan Quick made 19 saves for the Kings, who lost for the third time in their last 10 home games.

ANGELS

The Angels and the city of Anaheim agreed Wednesday on a deal under which a company affiliated with Angels owner Arte Moreno would buy Angel Stadium and the surrounding property for $325 million. The city would not contribute to the cost of either renovating the stadium or building a new one, and the Angels would decide whether to upgrade or replace the current stadium.

Under the deal, the Angels are committed to playing in Anaheim through 2050, with options that could keep them there through 2065. The Angels were faced with a Dec. 31 deadline to opt out of their stadium lease or remain bound to it through 2029.

Advertisement

RAMS

Since becoming the Rams coach in 2017, Sean McVay never has shied from accountability. He protectively falls on the sword for every miscue or poor performance by players, saying it was his fault for not putting them in better positions.

But as the play-caller, his limited use of running back Todd Gurley during the first half of the season indisputably was McVay’s error — and his alone — to own.

He all but did so Wednesday when asked what precipitated Gurley’s increased usage of late.

“Me not being an idiot?” McVay said.

As the Rams prepare for Sunday’s game against the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks, all indications are that McVay will stick to a plan that worked against the Arizona Cardinals and mostly worked wonders during a run to the playoffs in 2017 and to the Super Bowl last season.

“You don’t want to make the same mistakes that you ended up making earlier on,” McVay said.

YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS MOMENT

What is your all-time favorite local sports moment? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com and tell me what it is and why, and it could appear in a future Sports newsletter.

This moment comes from Perry Grant of Arcadia:

“May, 1968, the week before finals. Studying too much and had to take a break. Went over to Pauley Pavilion to shoot some hoops. The four side baskets were down so there were six open half courts. Got into a 3-on-3 game. There were three games going on.

“The door on the west end opened up and in walked six more players. All three games immediately stopped, because the best collegiate basketball team in the nation (maybe of all time) had just walked in, plus one. Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Lynn Shackelford, Kenny Heitz, Lucius Allen and Mike Warren and the plus-one. The six quickly chose teams and started playing. I did not know the name of the plus-one. He seemed almost as tall as Alcindor and very athletic. I figured him to be a pro. He was that good and he blocked one of Alcindor‘s sky hooks (I know, I know. Everybody tells me that’s impossible but I know what I saw.)

“I turned to the guy next to me and said, ‘Who the heck is that?’ He said, ‘You really don’t know who that is? That’s Sidney Wicks; he was at Santa Monica College this past year but he’ll be here next year to help us win another title.’

“And he came and did exactly that.”

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

No games scheduled.

BORN ON THIS DATE

1947: Football player Jim Plunkett

1949: Golfer Lanny Wadkins

1951: Golfer Tom Purtzer

1957: Football player Art Monk

1963: Ski jumper Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards

1964: Swimmer Pablo Morales

1978: Hockey player Olli Jokinen

1985: Basketball player Josh Smith

DIED ON THIS DATE

1951: Baseball player “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, 64

2001: Yachtsman Peter Blake, 53

2002: Sports broadcasting executive Roone Arledge, 71

2010: Football player/broadcaster Don Meredith, 71

2016: Football player Rashaan Salaam, 42

AND FINALLY

The top 10 Raiders of all time, No. 8: Jim Plunkett. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. If you want to subscribe, click here.


Newsletter
Get our daily Sports Report newsletter
Advertisement