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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Kevin Sumlin says he's talked extension

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HOUSTON -- Houston coach Kevin Sumlin deflected questions about his future Tuesday, saying he's had several conversations with athletics director Mack Rhoades about a possible contract extension.

Sumlin is a hot commodity after guiding Houston (No. 6 BCS, No. 7 AP) to unprecedented heights in four seasons and the brink of the school's first Bowl Championship Series berth.

"I've talked to Mack a couple of times, we've had a couple different discussions about a lot of things," said Sumlin. "I've got a really strong relationship with him, an open relationship. Our administration understands that we're trying to win a championship, and things that detract from that, I'm not really interested in doing."

Sumlin's current contract pays him a base salary of between $1 million and $1.2 million and runs through the 2015 season.

Current coaching vacancies include Mississippi (Houston Nutt), Illinois (Ron Zook), UCLA (Rick Neuheisel), Arizona State (Dennis Erickson) and Washington State (Paul Wulff). More firings are inevitable.

"Nobody has talked to me all year," Sumlin said. "No one has contacted me from anywhere in the country about a coaching job anywhere. Even if they tried, at this point, I wouldn't even talk to them. We're in the middle of the season."

The Cougars (12-0, 8-0 C-USA) can finish the program's first undefeated season and all but lock up its first BCS berth with a victory in Saturday's Conference USA championship game at home against No. 24 Southern Miss (10-2, 6-2).

Houston is 35-16 in Sumlin's four seasons, and turned into the nation's most prolific offenses along the way.

The Cougars lead the nation in total offense (613.3 yards per game), scoring (52.7 points per game) and passing yards (449.7 per game). They've scored at least 35 points in every game, and hit at least 56 in six victories.

Rhoades acknowledged that he has talked to Sumlin about his future with Houston.

"We're going to continue to talk, as appropriate," Rhoades said Tuesday night. "The most important thing on his mind right now, and the most important thing on my mind right now is Southern Miss. We're not going to cheat our fans or our student-athletes."

"That's where I know that 110 percent of his focus is," Rhoades said. "And I feel great about that."

Houston could soon be a much more attractive destination, with a move to the Big East expected and plans in the works for the construction of a new football stadium.

"The conference affiliation is a big deal," Sumlin said. "You can't rank them in order, but the venue you play in and the facilities are a huge part of that. As you look at it, those things work hand in hand."

Sumlin, a former assistant to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, was also the target of speculation about vacancies after the 2009 season, when Houston finished 10-4. He says his staff and players have gotten used to the distracting talk.

"You talk about coaches two ways in college football," Sumlin said. "A bunch of them, they talked about letting them go on Monday and Sunday. The other guys, they talk about moving on to other jobs.

"I don't want to be in that first conversation," he said. "As long as you keep talking about me moving on, hopefully, I'm doing a pretty good job at that point."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.