Sumlin allows UH fans to exhale

Houston Cougars coach Kevin Sumlin, who will lead the nation's No. 1 passing attack into Fort Worth on New Year's Eve against Air Force in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, made it a happy holiday season in the Bayou City after all.

Sumlin, 10-3 this season and 18-8 overall in two seasons with the Cougars since taking over for Art Briles, declined an interview request by Cincinnati, which lost its coach, Brian Kelly, to Notre Dame. Sumlin was granted permission to talk to Cincy and UH fans fretted that the highly likable Sumlin would jump ship.

The Conference USA Coach of the Year is instead working on a long-term deal to remain at UH. Now Sumlin, 45, and the Coogs will wait on quarterback Case Keenum, who is exploring entering the NFL Draft. If he stays in school, he'll start the season as a 2010 Heisman Trophy candidate.