This year is no different, with the Houston head coach’s name heavily attached to openings at Arizona State and UCLA, and to a lesser extent vacancies at North Carolina and Illinois. Both Sumlin and athletic director Mack Rhoades acknowledged Monday that they’ve held preliminary discussions on a renegotiated contract, a direct and expected result of all of the speculation.
Regardless of whether those discussions are preliminary or extensive, formal or informal, however, it won’t stop the rumor mill from churning. On the speculative aspect of his job, and with his Cougars in the midst of an unbeaten season and in line for a BcS bowl bid, Sumlin is vehemently dismissing any thought that he’s focused on anything other than this weekend’s Conference USA championship game.
And, in very plain, black-and-white-with-no-hint-of-gray language, he also denied any type of conversations with other schools that could cause said lack of focus.
“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.”
(Writer’s note: do we need to yet again add the disclaimer about agents and plausible deniability? Didn’t think so.)
As he did Monday, Sumlin acknowledged conversations with Rhoades about his contract situation. Again, though, Sumlin doesn’t want to do anything — at least at this point in time — to take the focus away from what still needs to be accomplished by his Cougars on the football field.
“I’ve talked to Mack a couple of times, we’ve had a couple different discussions about a lot of things,” Sumlin said. “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 reached an agreement on a contract extension very early last year that would technically keep him at UH through 2015 and pay him slightly north of $1 million annually. He could double — at least — that figure at another school, although he might just be better served ripping a page out of Chris Petersen‘s playbook and building his own Boise further south.
Especially if his best options for a “promotion” this year are ASU and the other, lesser Los Angeles Div. 1-A football school.