Nov 22, 2022 - Sports

A history teacher turned hedge fund manager is now the Charlotte 49ers’ football coach

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Sharon Gaber (left), Amy Poggi, Biff Poggi and Charlotte AD Mike Hill. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

A man wearing tan pants, white sneakers and a grey Charlotte 49ers jacket walks along the concourse at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

His silver hair catches the light of a sunny November day. He’s here to coach football. The man who towers over the school’s athletics director is Francis “Biff” Poggi, Charlotte’s third head coach, a former history teacher turned hedge fund manager.

State of play: Charlotte introduced Poggi Monday morning.

Why it matters: Plenty of people in Charlotte had never heard of Poggi before the 49ers hired him to replace Will Healy, whom they fired earlier this year after a 1-7 start. But you may be familiar with Poggi’s work as associate head coach at Michigan.

  • The Wolverines are 11-0 and competing for a national championship. The 49ers finished the season 3-9.
  • Poggi will stay with the Wolverines through the end of the season.

Between the lines: Humble and unassuming describe the 62-year-old coach. He reminds you more of your old history teacher than a hedge fund manager, which may be because he taught history — European history to be exact.

  • He’ll be the first to tell you he’s “so old that back in those days [he taught] Soviet history.”
  • But life in business allowed the millionaire to pour millions of his own money into a high school football program in East Baltimore St. Frances, where he provided funding for everything from SAT prep courses to supplementing seven teachers’ salaries to helping students with tuition both in high school and college, per ESPN.
  • There’s also an HBO documentary about his time at St. Frances called “The Cost of Winning.”

The big picture: Charlotte is trying to establish its football program as it moves into the American Athletic Conference and celebrates its 10th anniversary next year. It will eventually expand its football stadium to double the size.

Yes, but: If you want to play in the big time, you need to spend big-time dollars, which Charlotte hasn’t. 

What they’re saying: “Our goal is very simple,” Poggi said. “We want to win the AAC and we want to win it repeatedly. And we want to get to the college football playoff. That’s why I left Michigan. And that’s what I’m expecting to do here, and you should be asking, what’s your timetable. My timetable is now.”

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