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

Mike Bohn Clay Helton Cartoon
Jim Thompson illustrates USC athletic director Mike Bohn’s decision to retain football coach Clay Helton.
(Jim Thompson / For The Times)

Some Trojan fans tried their best to get to USC athletic director Mike Bohn before he made his decision about whether to retain football coach Clay Helton or terminate the coach after what they might consider a disappointing season in Southern California (8-4, 7-2 in Pac-12 play).

Trouble is ... they reached out to the wrong Mike Bohn.

“An angry USC fan emailed the wrong Mike Bohn. Sorry, sir, but I do not have firing powers,” tweeted Mike Bohn, a reporter for USA Today, including an apparent letter from someone seeking the USC athletic director.


The letter:

“Dear Mike,

USC football fan since 1958. PLEASE do not retain Clay Helton. The team, the school and the fans need a change! He is a nice man but will never be anything other than a mediocre coach. His teams have been undisciplined, poorly coached and schemed. Please show some leadership and do the right thing. Retaining him will lead to a massive revolt of fans, recruits and DONORS!”

Instead of making a move to inspire the USC fanbase, athletic director Mike Bohn has opted to keep the football program mired in mediocrity.

Dec. 4, 2019

To be fair, this isn’t the first time the reporter has been confused for the university official.

“He used to be at Cincinnati. I would get infrequent messages from that,” the reporter said in a telephone interview. “But once he did the move I got a bunch of random tweets.”

The email hit his inbox at 12:40 p.m. PST, just a few hours before the official announcement.

“This is the first time I’ve gotten a long email like that,” the other Mike Bohn said. “Tweets were very common.”


When the real Mike Bohn and USC did announce Helton would be retained, reaction was swift, and primarily negative, although he did receive some support for the move. Here is a collection of tweets, letters and reaction from both sides.

“There goes your legacy. No USC fan will ever support you again. USC needed leaders, no losers.” fired off Rhett Bollinger, Angels beat reporter for

Hot takes


“Integrity for lyin Mike Bohn. This guy would sell his mother for a dollar. Do not donate anything to USC. Do not renew your memberships. Do not attend the games. Of course Mike doesn’t care, because he doesn’t really do anything, but make him fire the dead weight at HH.” user JacksonSF replied to Bohn.

“You just lost more than half of your fan base. Your donations and sales will be killed by this decision. The lack of comprehension from you and the school is beyond infuriating. You have now accepted and become a middle of the road athletics department. Disgrace” tweeted TrojanNoleLADNE.


USC (and its supporters) spend $300 million on the Coliseum and retain a $3.00 coach to attract fans and recruits? How stupid do they think we are? Exactly who do they think is going to attend the New Mexico (New Mexico!) game after SC gets blown out by Alabama? Not me. R.I.P. USC football.

Bill Hokans
Santa Ana


At the USC football players meeting everyone was told to expect some coaching changes next year – which made perfect sense, UNTIL I heard Coach Helton was NOT one of the changes. Silly me, in this day and age of ‘participation trophies,’ I guess it makes PERFECT SENSE to extend him another year, he IS a super nice guy who excels at mediocrity.

Chris Gagliano
Rancho Palos Verdes


Mike Bohn just made Lynn Swann look like a genius.

Jack Saltzberg
Valley Village


How dare the USC athletic department defy the authority and command of the LA Times Sports Dept. and choose to retain Clay Helton for another season?

Rob Fleishman


On the absurdity of fan reaction:

“Why do USC fans hate Clay Helton so much? It feels...over the top?” tweeted Molly Knight, a reporter for The Athletic.

“What the program, athletic department, and university need right now! Really easy to see, don’t let the blind person be the only one who can see it! #FightOn” tweeted former Trojan long snapper Jake Olson.

Olson continued, addressing the more wild responses to Bohn’s decision.

“The fans that now won’t come to the beginning of the game are the same fans who would have left their seat at halftime when we’re up by three touchdowns anyways... No difference in the Colly! Looking for loyal fans only! #FightOnForever” he tweeted.

“I told y’all Clay Helton was safe during the Cal and UCLA games,” George Wrighster, a radio host, tweeted. “Y’all said I was crazy. lol. USC won 5 of their last 6 albeit against the bottom of the Pac-12. Kedon Slovis, the WRs, and his $20M buyout saved his job.”


USC keeping Clay Helton isn’t necessarily the problem. The problem is Helton will keep Clancy Pendergast and John Baxter. This team isn’t as far away from being a playoff contending team as we fans think. But by keeping the aforementioned coaches, they will never get there.

Geno Apicella


Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip Helton! It’s now time for the Helton head hunters to focus on chipping away at the 4&8 Kelly. Fight On!

David Marshall
Santa Monica


What could have been

“With all the odds against him and Urban Meyer sneaking around the chicken coop Clay Helton survives... AWESOME!!” two-time Super Bowl champion Mark May tweeted.

“We could use a coach like Ed Orgeron. Oh wait.” user @dyllyp tweeted.