CALIFORNIA—From being on the verge of getting fired to being chosen as finalists for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, USC football coach Clay Helton has had a roller coaster of a ride the last two months. Helton guided USC to 9 consecutive wins, have seen their record improved tremendously from 1-3 to 10-3.

Along with Helton, last year’s winner Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney was nominated as one of the finalists. Other finalists include Nick Saban, whose Alabama team was first ranked in each of the Associated Press polls this season, former USC coaches – James Franklin of Penn State and Mike MacIntyre of Colarado, Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst, Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, West Virginia’s Dana Holgerson, and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops.

The Trojans started the year being blown away by Alabama at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington. They responded with a victory against Utah State at the Coliseum. USC suffered their third consecutive loss to the Stanford Cardinal team in a calendar year during their trip to up North.

On January 2, the Trojans registered their first Rose Bowl win since 2009, when they defeated Penn State 52-49 by overcoming a 14-point fourth quarter deficient.