LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Clay Helton was named permanent USC head football coach Monday following a resounding win over UCLA this weekend, university officials announced.

Helton, who guided the team to a 5-2 record and a berth into the Pac-12 Football Championship Game with a first-place finish in the challenging Pac-12 South Division as its interim head coach, has signed a multi-year agreement to be the Trojans’ permanent head coach, according to USC athletic director Pat Haden.

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“We have known Clay well for the past six years. He earned this opportunity,” said Haden in a statement. “He has been positive and upbeat handling adversity. He was built to be a head coach.”

The 43-year-old Helton was named USC’s interim head coach on Oct. 12 after Haden fired coach Steve Sarkisian for his behavior and using inappropriate language during an event in August and other struggles by the football team.

Sarkisian later announced he would be getting unspecified treatment, but didn’t believe he had a drinking problem, blaming his unsteady appearance on combining alcohol and medication.

“Through the hard work and resiliency of this year’s team, we have put ourselves in position to play for a Pac-12 Championship, ” said Helton. “I would like to thank our players and coaches for the effort and dedication that they have given to this season. It has been my most memorable as a coach.”

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Despite talk by fans to the contrary, Haden said beating UCLA was not the reason Helton was hired.

“He was not hired because many current and former players voiced their support for him. And he was not hired because he is a Trojan. He is our choice because we believe he can win Pac-12 and national championships here. Clay Helton is the right man at the right time for the USC football program,” Haden said.

Scott Wolf, Daily News USC reporter and blogger at INSIDE USC, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he believes Haden may have had an even greater motivation to finalize the hiring of Helton.

“I think it’s a hire that kinda shows Pat Haden wants to wrap up his athletic director duties instead of doing an exhaustive coaching search,” said Wolf.

Since Helton took over, USC has victories against two Top 25 teams (Utah and UCLA) and the Trojans have outrushed opponents in each game (by an average of 263-124 yards) and been plus-9 in turnovers.

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