(USA Today) -- How does a college football coach making nearly $5.5 million put a real exclamation point at the end of his season?
By increasing his take to more than $6 million, which is what Alabama's Nick Saban will do if the second-ranked Crimson Tide win Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game and the Bowl Championship Series national title in January.
Saban's bonuses - which would come on top of $165,000 worth of incentives already reached - are a fraction of the millions earned and still at stake for major-college head coaches, according to a USA TODAY Sports review of contracts.
Mark Richt, who will lead No. 3 Georgia against Alabama on Saturday, has a chance for even more bonus money than Saban. After last season, the school gave Richt a new contract that did not increase his $2.8 million in base compensation but nearly doubled his possible bonuses. As a result, Richt has secured an extra $225,000 and could get $575,000 more.
Meanwhile, in yet another indicator of the gap between college sports' haves and have-nots, Kent State coach Darrell Hazell has his Mid-American Conference team in contention for an elite-level BCS berth once apparently considered so unlikely that his contract does not include a bonus for the achievement.
Kent State athletics director Joel Nielsen said, "I don't think there was any direct reasoning behind (the absence of a BCS bonus) other than I know we put in a bowl provision and then a bowl-win provision. There was just no other further conversation beyond that. ... It never came up in the conversations" about Hazell's contract before Hazell was hired in December 2010.
Hazell has earned $35,000 in bonuses, including $5,000 for getting the 19th-ranked Golden Flashes into Friday's MAC title game.
Their opponent, No. 18 Northern Illinois, also has a chance to move up to a position in the final BCS standings that would require its inclusion in one of the premier games - and give Huskies coach Dave Doeren a $100,000 bonus.
The remaining games of the pre-bowl major-college football season will determine champions, bowl bids and the distribution of millions of dollars to conferences, schools -- and coaching staffs.
The coaches' payouts come in the form of myriad incentive bonuses. They are on top of guaranteed compensation and perks that by themselves place head coaches -- and some top assistants -- among the USA's highest-paid public employees.
Below are bonuses earned by, and still available to, head coaches of some of this season's top teams. In many cases, their assistant coaches have similar, albeit smaller, bonuses at stake.
Contracts from Notre Dame, Stanford, Syracuse, all private schools, were unavailable. The contract from Navy, whose athletics department is organized as a private, non-profit organization, also was unavailable.
These figures do not take into account contingencies that could alter, or prevent payment of, these bonuses (i.e. academic achievement by players, coach's departure from school). They do not include bonuses payable for coach-of-the-year honors and team academic performance, tickets or perks tied to bowl participation.