The end result of hard times, broken promises, and failed expectations.
For college football fans feeling the heat of more pressing financial matters, the road sign up ahead reveals the next stop is an inability to contribute and support as before.
A coach feeling the pressure of producing a program that wins on an agreed upon level with the school administration leads to a loss of confidence and failure to perform.
The appearance of declining returns and failed expectations for an investment in the coaching staff is where fans and school administrators have a common interest.
As the 2009 college football season dawns upon us a realistic review of the situation indicates there are three programs on the verge of making a change.
The tried and true indicator of a change is a 10 percent reduction in attendance at home games.
Another is the dreaded "leveling off" reputation, particularly if that level is below previous accomplishments.
A decrease in contributions from the fan base and alumni is equal to posting a billboard with a message of impending separation between a coach and the school.
Former Texas coach Darrell Royal once said, "People speak with their pocketbook."
3. The Poor House
Coach Mark Snyder of the Marshall Thundering Herd is hearing the whispers, four years on the job, four losing seasons.
Prior to Snyder coming to Huntington, Marshall did not have a losing season for 22 years.
Another indication of a change being in the air is the recent hiring of a new Athletic Director, Marshall alum Mike Hamrick.
The Friends of Coal organization annually sponsor a pep rally in the West Virginia capital city of Charleston. The event is known as "Paint The Capital City Green."
Tickets for the activity go for 40 dollars.
Prime seating tickets for all home football games cost 204 dollars, and there are tickets available.
A once rabid fan base will have to be excited in order to prevent a change.
Thundering Herd followers will have one of their own monitoring this situation.
Marshall fans will recommend the verdict by their actions.
This is a situation where financial results will dictate the outcome.
2. Thin Ice
Coach Dan Hawkins of Colorado has a problem in Boulder.
While the man known to locals as "The Hawk" insists he only promised to do the best he could, Buffalo fans feel he and his highly touted quarterback son have not fulfilled their end of the bargain.
Hawkins was brought in to replace the Gary Barnett regime who left after a series of issues arose concerning player behavior off the field and a declining number of victories on the field.
It went without saying that Buffalo fans and administration expected as much success on the field, all Hawkins really had to do was run a controversy free program.
Just give the CU fans a chance to catch their breath from the Rick Neuheisel-Gary Barnett madhouses.
In his five years as head coach of Boise State, prior to arriving in Boulder, Hawkins won 53 games and lost 11.
In three years as the leader of the Buffaloes, his teams have gone 13-24.
Adding to the dynamic of constant losing, there is a controversy about the quarterback position.
The situation is mired in the fact the coach's son Cody is the perceived leader of the team. Or is he?
Is there simply too much pressure on young Cody Hawkins for him to develop into the star he was touted to be in high school?
At the team banquet in December, Coach Dan Hawkins promised "10 wins and no excuses" in 2009.
So many choices for what promise will be broken lead to the inexorable conclusion there will be a new regime in Boulder for 2010.
3. Short Lease
Randy Shannon of Miami has not produced a football team as good as his predecessor, Larry Coker.
During Coker's last two seasons the Hurricanes won 16 games and lost 9.
It was an experience considered so terrible that Hurricane supporters could not wait to send him packing.
In Shannon's two seasons on the job the Huricanes have won 12 games and lost 13.
Included in Shannon's accomplishments we find a 51-13 humbling at the hands of Oklahoma, being swept by N.C. State, and a troubling 48-0 home shutout to Virginia.
Having spent over two decades earning the reputation as "America's Team" of the Dark Side, the Hurricanes are about to lose it all.
There has to be a change in the number of games won this season. Hurricane fans are not likely to be satisfied by less than a Top 25 finish.
In any other scenario, a change will be made due to failure of achieving expectations.
Huntington, Boulder, Miami. There are many roads leading to Tap City.
The question is whether it is only a stopover for a change or, the beginning of a journey to success.