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USC fires Helton

LOS ANGELES — Clay Helton’s unlikely tenure as the head football coach at Southern California began bizarrely and lasted far longer than almost anybody expected.

The folksy Southerner won a Rose Bowl and a Pac-12 title early on, but he never won over most of the Trojans’ fans.

And after one more embarrassing defeat for a school only interested in championships, USC finally moved on.

Helton was fired on Monday, two games into his seventh season in charge. Athletic Director Mike Bohn made the move two days after a 42-28 home loss to Stanford that sent the Trojans plummeting out of the AP Top 25.

Donte Williams, the Trojans’ cornerbacks coach and associate head coach, is taking over. Williams, a Los Angeles-area native and the first Black head coach in USC football history, joined the program in 2020 and has played a major role in the Trojans’ significant recruiting advancements over the past two cycles. Williams was an assistant at Nebraska in 2017.

Helton went 46-24 during his improbable seven years in charge of a longtime West Coast college football powerhouse with 11 national championships. The career assistant coach twice took over as USC’s interim coach before permanently getting his first head coaching job late in the 2015 season.

Gregory in protocols

FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys activated right guard Zack Martin off the COVID-19 reserve list Monday, but they will start the week without defensive end Randy Gregory because of the health and safety protocols.

Gregory, a former Husker, went on the COVID-19 list four days after playing in the opener, a 31-29 loss to Tampa Bay. Backup tackle Brandon Knight returned along with Martin.

Gregory needs two negative tests 24 hours apart to be activated. The Cowboys visit the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

Fitzpatrick on IR

Ryan Fitzpatrick is going on injured reserve with a hip injury, and Washington is turning to Taylor Heinicke to start at quarterback against the New York Giants on Thursday night.

Cam Newton is not walking through that door, and Robert Griffin III is not walking through that door. This is Heinicke and Kyle Allen’s show for the foreseeable future, and coach Ron Rivera does not plan on bringing in a veteran QB any time soon.

“We like the guys that we have,” Rivera said Monday. “We’ve had them play for us. They’ve done some good things for us, so we’ll see what happens.”

Heinicke will be the 10th quarterback to start a regular-season game for Washington since it released Griffin in 2016. Despite RG3 tweeting, “Make the call” and a clip of his 76-yard touchdown run from his rookie year in 2012, a return of the former face of the franchise turned ESPN analyst is not in Rivera’s plans.

The plan is Heinicke starting, Allen backing up and Kyle Shurmur serving as the emergency third option.


Jays honored by league

Creighton’s Abby Bottomley was named Big East defensive player of the week Monday while Kendra Wait was recognized as freshman of the week.

Bottomley averaged a league-high six digs per set as the Jays went 3-1 last week.

Wait posted double-doubles in three matches last week and averaged 9.46 assists and 3.23 digs per set.

Lopers move to No. 1

The UNK volleyball team moved up two spots to No. 1 in the latest AVCA Division II Top 25 poll, which was released Monday.

It’s the first time in three years that the Lopers have been No. 1. UNK will play No. 3 Washburn on Saturday.

Wayne State (6-1) climbed 12 spots to No. 5 in the poll. Over the weekend, the Wildcats swept then-No. 2 Angelo State, No. 5 Lewis (Ill.) and No. 9 Western Washington before losing in five sets to No. 20 Metro State.


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