Aug 15, 2023 - Sports

Charlotte 49ers football to be featured in upcoming ESPN documentary “Mining for Greatness”

Charlotte 49ers field

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Grab your popcorn and put on your green and white. A documentary about Charlotte 49ers football called “Mining for Greatness” will air this football season.

Driving the news: First-year head coach Biff Poggi, who was previously an associate head coach at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh, confirmed a documentary is being made about the program.

  • “I told [the producers] there needs to be 15 episodes because we’re planning on playing 15 games,” Poggi told reporters Tuesday morning, implying the 49ers will head to a bowl game this fall.

Why it matters: 49ers football is still carving out its place in the city. Charlotte isn’t a college town that lives and dies with football. Plus, the 49ers’ program is still relatively new, celebrating its 10th year this season as it heads into a new conference (the American Athletic Conference).

  • An ESPN documentary could help establish its place in the larger college football conversation. But the team also has to take care of business on the field.

[Go deeper: A history teacher turned hedge fund manager is now the Charlotte 49ers’ football coach]

Details: Episodes, of which there will be at least 12, will be available weekly on ESPN+. The exact air date for the series is TBD, but the first episode will drop the first week of September, according to executive producer David Ravin, a UNC Charlotte alumnus and president of development, construction and property management firm Northwood Ravin.

  • “The goal is to have footage of the team preparing each week for the upcoming game as well as looking back on how they played the previous week,” Ravin tells Axios.
  • Filming began earlier this year, per Poggi. Film crews are around a lot, but the players are used to it, he added.

Between the lines: It’s the second time a team Poggi coached will be the subject of a documentary.

  • HBO’s four-part documentary called “The Cost of Winning” features St. Frances, the high school football team Poggi coached in Baltimore. There, he also helped pay for SAT prep courses, supplemented teachers’ salaries and helped students pay high school and college tuition, per ESPN.
  • Mickey Holden, who also produced “The Cost of Wining,” is producing “Mining for Greatness.”

Flashback: Poggi brought the idea of the documentary to Charlotte 49ers director of athletics, Mike Hill, months ago, Hill tells Axios.

  • Holden was interested in creating a documentary about the 49ers, but the university didn’t have the funding for a project like that. Enter Ravin, who is already a university donor (he donated an undisclosed amount to rename the their architecture program David R. Ravin School of Architecture last year).
  • Ravin declined to comment on how much he donated for the documentary. As a whole, he’s contributed millions to the university.
  • Hill confirmed the documentary is not costing the university anything.

What’s next: The 49ers open the regular season on Saturday, Sept. 2, vs. South Carolina State at 6pm on ESPN+.

[Go deeper: Fresh renderings: Charlotte 49ers move forward with football stadium expansion]


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