HUNTINGTON - Coaching is about getting the job done.
In terms of winning, Marshall University's Mark Snyder may be sitting on a hot seat. And in order to cool off his critics, Snyder must snap a string of four straight losing seasons since he arrived in 2005. The Thundering Herd program has not produced a winning season since 2003.
Marshall needs to win six games to become bowl eligible. Whether that happens depends on the maturation of Brian Anderson as the team's starting quarterback.
The Thundering Herd have the marquee players, but they need seniors Cody Slate (tight end) and Albert McClellan (defensive end) to step up and take a leadership role.
The following is a game-by-game breakdown of the 2009 season and how Marshall matches up with their opponents.
Southern Illinois (Salukis): Before matching up against comparable opponents in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA), SIU tries to keep a perfect record intact in its series with Marshall.
The two programs haven't met for 31 years, so throw the fact that the Salukis are 2-0 against the Thundering Herd out the window.
Two All-Americans graduated from an SIU squad which finished 9-3 last season, so give the edge to Marshall in this season-opener.
At Virginia Tech (Hokies): Hopefully the Thundering Herd learned a lesson the last time they faced a top 25 program like Virginia Tech. Last year in the second week of the regular season, Marshall led Wisconsin 14-0 early in the second quarter only to watch as the Badgers scored 51 unanswered points.
Virginia Tech is coming off a 10-4 season, which included an Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Back in the fold are returning starters Darren Evans (1,265 yards rushing) at running back and Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.
Marshall needs another strong start to put a scare into the Hokies, but just like the last time these two teams met in Snyder's first season at the helm when Virginia Tech scored 27 unanswered points in the second half, the Thundering Herd suffer their first loss of the season.
Bowling Green (Falcons): Five years have passed since Bowling Green and Marshall have hooked up. The Falcons are under new management with coach Dave Clawson, but bring back their starting quarterback Tyler Sheehan who threw for 2,610 yards and 20 touchdowns during his junior year.
This non-conference game could serve as a prelude to the wide-open Conference-USA style of attack. Playing in the confines of Joan C. Edwards Stadium usually goes in favor of Marshall, and on this particular Saturday the storyline should be no different.
At Memphis (Tigers): Marshall is starting to build some confidence heading into their C-USA opener. Working against the Thundering Herd is the fact that in four previous meetings between the two schools, the home team has won.
It also doesn't help matters that Memphis returns Curtis Steele (1,223 yards rushing) at running back and Arkelon Hall (2,275 yards passing) at quarterback.
Memphis finished .500 in the league and earned a bowl bid. A win over Marshall goes a long way in helping coach Tommy West and the Tigers becoming bowl eligible at the end of the year.
East Carolina (Pirates): Marshall gave East Carolina fits last year in Greenville, N.C., which only fuels the Pirates for this year's noon tilt in Huntington.
Patrick Pickney, who passed for 2,675 yards during last season's 9-5 finish, proves to be nothing of a headache for the Thundering Herd.
At Tulane (Green Wave): Tulane welcomes back running back Andre Anderson, who ranked first among C-USA running backs and fourth nationally in rushing until an injury ended his season in the seventh game of the year.
That alone, however, can't save Tulane.
The season seems to be spiraling out of control for Marshall, but Tulane proves to be the best remedy as Marshall goes on the road and defeats the Green Wave for the third time in as many tries.
At West Virginia (Mountaineers): A win streak is just not meant to be as Marshall travels to Morgantown for The Friends of Coal Bowl. The Thundering Herd do not have an answer for WVU running back Noel Devine, who rushed for 1,289 yards last year as a sophomore.
Even though quarterback Pat White has exhausted his eligibility as a Mountaineer, Marshall can't cure the hex which results in WVU's ninth win against Marshall in as many games in the history of the series.
UAB (Blazers): As long as Marshall avoids the injury bug against WVU from the week before, Marshall's next contest against UAB should be a cakewalk.
Yes, UAB returns all 11 starters. However, they are the same 11 players who were members of the Blazers' 4-8 finish.
Marshall has never lost at home to UAB in two previous tries.
At Central Florida (Knights): Under the lights for a Sunday night special in Orlando, Fla., marks the eighth week of the regular season.
Marshall is anticipating that last year's loss to the Knights in cold and wet conditions was a fluke. If rain plays a factor again, Thundering Herd running back Darius Marshall could be in for a long night since the Blazers return their entire front line on defense. The same unit which helped UCF lead C-USA in rushing defense, and rank second in both total defense and scoring defense.
Southern Miss (Golden Eagles): This game plays a major role whether Marshall finishes .500.
Marshall can't be caught looking ahead to pushover SMU the following week. Otherwise Southern Miss will take advantage. The same Golden Eagles who finished strong in 2008 with five straight regular-season wins and earned a postseason bowl berth.
Damion Fletcher (1,313 yards rushing) is one of the most prolific running backs in the nation, while quarterback Austin Davis (3,128 yards) has a dangerous target in DeAndre Brown (1,117 yards receiving).
SMU (Mustangs): Nothing is a sure thing in college football, but playing SMU is the closest thing to a lock.
After enjoying success at Hawaii, the June Jones experiment is slowly getting off the ground following a 1-11 finish in his debut as head coach.
At UTEP (Miners): Pivotal best describes the situation facing Marshall in its regular-season finale. The Thundering Herd desperately need a win to finish .500 and earn a postseason bid.
If the Thundering Herd can suffocate the passing attack of UTEP's Trevor Vittatoe (3,274 yards passing last season), they will return to Huntington a happy bunch.
Pending the outcome of several toss-ups, Marshall can could finish 7-5 or 5-7.
Keeping an eye on the results in particular is the school's athletic director Mike Hamrick, who said last week, "It's no secret that it's important that we have a successful football season this year."