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USC's Clay Helton Praises Kliff Kingsbury ... 'I'm Happy for Him'

1/8/2019 3:47 PM PST

USC's Clay Helton Praises Kliff Kingsbury, 'I'm Happy for Him'

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USC head coach Clay Helton says there's no hard feelings with Kliff Kingsbury for leaving the coaching staff to take an NFL head coaching job ... saying he doesn't blame the guy for jumping ship. 

Of course, Kliff -- who was fired from Texas Tech -- signed a contract to become USC's offensive coordinator just last month ... only to back out this week when the Arizona Cardinals expressed interest. 

Kliff officially signed with the Cards on Tuesday -- and his short-lived boss, Clay Helton, finally broke his silence about all of the drama that's been going down behind the scenes. 

"I am happy for Kliff," Helton said in a statement.

"Any time you get an opportunity to be an NFL head coach, it is special. He is a talented coach, that’s why we brought him here. I wish him nothing but the best."

Helton continued ... "USC has always attracted the best coaches in the country from all levels. We will spend the upcoming weeks finding the best possible fit for USC and our program."

Kingsbury reportedly had to pay $150,000 as a buyout for leaving SC ... but the Cardinals are expected to be handling that payment. 

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