Clay Helton has twice taken charge of the Southern California football program in moments of crisis and steadied it with calm leadership.
Athletic director Pat Haden decided Helton has earned the chance to be much more than his backup plan.
USC hired Helton as its permanent coach on Monday, removing the interim tag five days before the Trojans face Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game.
Helton guided the troubled Trojans (8-4, 5-3 Pac-12) to five victories and a Pac-12 South title in his seven-week tenure after taking over for Steve Sarkisian, making him 6-2 in two interim stints over the past three years.
"I'm totally humbled, and I'm proud of the...