USC coach Clay Helton denies wild rumor that player punched him in the face

On Tuesday, the college football world produced one of the juiciest, most salacious rumors we've heard in years. According to reports, the turmoil at USC had gotten so intense that freshman offensive tackle E.J. Price punched coach Clay Helton in the face. Price is one of a handful of players expected to transfer out of the program.

While those rumors made for some great Internet fodder, they aren't true. At least according to Helton, who gave a hysterical response when he was asked about them late Tuesday.

"I'm a big social media guy," Helton said. "But I got told today about E.J. Price hitting me, which is funny. I wouldn't be here. I'd be dead, one. Maybe it'd make my face look better."

What a response from Helton, who isn't that far off. Price is listed at 6-foot-6, 325 pounds on the USC website. So he can probably pack a punch.

As Helton explained, Price's departure from the program was much simpler: He was homesick.

"I know a lot of times when a man doesn't show up on the field, there's questions. I talked to E.J. a couple days ago. E.J. has some personal family issues, a lot of homesickness and missing family really bad. With us sitting down and visiting, really felt mutually it was important to go find a school closer to home where he can deal with his family."

While there's way of definitely knowing why Price is transferring, perhaps Price is just homesick. Either way, it doesn't look like the soon-to-be former Trojan physically hurt Helton.

But what does it say about USC's program that Helton has to even address rumors like this? Are things are so crazy inside the program that many on the outside actually believe rumors like this are true?

USC is a in a whole bunch of trouble right now. It's not completely surprising that the Trojans are 1-2 (both losses came to Top 10 teams), but it's troubling how they've looked in those two losses. Losing to Alabama 52-6 was bad enough, but that was followed by a 27-10 beatdown by Stanford (a game that wasn't as close as that final score would indicate).

And things aren't going to get any easier this week for the Trojans, who have to travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Utes on Friday night.

But if there's one upside for Helton, at least he wasn't punched by a player, right?