Southern California hired Clay Helton as its football coach Monday, removing the interim tag after he guided the team to a division title since taking over for Steve Sarkisian.

Athletic director Pat Haden announced Helton had signed a multiyear deal.

"After weeks of searching the collegiate and pro ranks, interviewing candidates, and speaking with head coaches, athletic directors, NFL executives, and very knowledgeable football people, and after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searching for in a coach was right here in front of us," Haden said.

The 43-year-old Helton has been an assistant with USC since 2010, working under both Lane Kiffin and Sarkisian.

He was offensive coordinator when Sarkisian was fired on Oct. 12. Sarkisian acknowledged he was struggling with alcohol after he went on an obscenity-laced rant at a booster function before the season and the coach and team continued to struggle for the first five games.

The Trojans have gone 5-2 since Helton took over and beat UCLA on Saturday to clinch the Pac-12 South and a spot in the conference championship game. The Trojans (8-4) will face Stanford on Saturday.

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.

Richt interested in coaching again

Mark Richt remains interested in another coaching job and said he will listen "to anybody who has interest in me" as he prepares for his final game as Georgia's coach.

Georgia announced Sunday that Richt will not return as coach in 2016.

Athletic director Greg McGarity and University of Georgia President Jere Morehead said Richt had been offered another position at the school that would include helping former players and fundraising for the university.

There was some expectation Richt might say at Monday's news conference he would accept the offer. Instead, he spoke with passion about the chance to coach again and to have more direct involvement in coaching quarterbacks and calling plays.

"I'll have the opportunity to look at a lot of options," Richt said. "I think there will be a lot of options to weigh, so I'm blessed in that way.

"I'm not ready to say what I'm going to do yet, but it is very attractive to have the option to stay in Athens ... and have the opportunity to help young people."

• Offensive and defensive coordinators from top-ranked Clemson, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Oklahoma are among finalists for the Broyles Award, given annually to a top assistant coach in college football. Finalists include Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Others are defensive coordinator Gene Chizik of eighth-ranked North Carolina and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles of No. 12 Baylor.

Tyrone Swoopes will start at quarterback for Texas against No. 12 Baylor on Saturday as Jerrod Heard recovers from a concussion.


Cueto rejects $120 million offer

Johnny Cueto reportedly rejected a six-year, $120 million offer from the Diamondbacks. Arizona wants a front-line starter and would have made the righthander by far the highest-paid player in the organization. Cueto went 11-13 with 3.44 ERA last year.

• Free-agent catcher Brayan Pena agreed to a $5 million, two-year contract with St. Louis. He will back up All-Star Yadier Molina.

• Atlanta signed reliever Jim Johnson to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.

• A person familiar with the discussions says Barry Bonds is talking with the Marlins about working for them as a hitting coach.