Bonuses for Nick Saban and a Raise for Kirby Smart? That's Money Well-Spent

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterApril 17, 2013

Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick SabanStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

You have to spend money to make money, and Alabama is certainly doing that at an extremely high level.

According to, the University of Alabama has amended the bonus structure in head coach Nick Saban's contract and given defensive coordinator Kirby Smart a raise, which will pay him an average of $1.28 million over the next three years.

Under the new terms, Saban will make $200,000 for making the four-team playoff, $300,000 for making the championship game and $400,000 for hoisting the crystal football once the new postseason format goes into effect after the 2014 season. He is only eligible to collect one of those bonuses per season.

He received $525,000 total in bonuses last season, but only $200,000 of that came from Alabama's 42-14 BCS National Championship Game win over Notre Dame, according to USA Today.

That's money well-spent for Alabama. 

While it isn't a raise, it provides even more incentive for Saban to get his program on college football's biggest stage.

He is already the nation's highest-paid coach, according to the USA Today coaches' salary database, but only by $122,988 over Texas' Mack Brown. Why raise the already-high bar when you can increase the incentive? Wise move by Alabama and a wise move by Saban, who knows that he'll be getting a good chunk of those bonuses more times than not.

Saban's success on the field is second to none. He has established a modern-day college football dynasty after winning three BCS National Championships over the last four years, and he has helped Alabama become the sixth-most valuable college football program in the country, according to Forbes.

Smart's contract will pay him $1.15 million in 2013, and $1.35 million in 2014 and 2015. He joins elite company in the assistant coaching ranks. It marks the first time in Alabama history that an assistant coach has topped the $1 million mark.

He is one of three assistant coaches making more than $1 million in college football this season, along with Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris and LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis. LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will join the million-dollar club in 2014, when his salary jumps to $1.3 million.

Smart stays in Saban's shadow in Tuscaloosa, but he has been an integral part of building and maintaining the Crimson Tide defense. Despite continuous roster turnover, the Alabama defense has finished in the top five nationally in total defense in each of Smart's five seasons as defensive coordinator.

By making him the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the country, Alabama has made it very hard for Smart to leave. Essentially, he's in the same position Florida head coach Will Muschamp was in at Texas—he's got a great gig and will only be tempted to leave by a major Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) head coach opening.

Coaching continuity is key in college football, and it looks like Alabama will keep the foundation of its staff in place for a long time.

That sound you hear is the rest of the SEC cringing.