New head coach Biff Poggi is the major story for Charlotte. Anyone watching the AAC media days remembers Coach Poggi beating his fist into the podium. "Three questions, really? You (the media) picked us last in the conference." That clip went viral. For AAC media days, it was the most shared and downloaded moment, even more than the top schools.
Poggi had a career as a hedge fund manager before transitioning into coaching. He was an offensive lineman with Pittsburgh in college (with Dan Marino), and later the associate head coach at Michigan. He recruited and acted as Jim Harbaugh's advisor and backup coach for practice. There is an in-depth article (the Athletic, subscription required) about his time there, detailing some of his psychological methods for team-building with his coaches. Also of note is that starting his career, for 19 years he coached Gilman High football in Maryland, winning the state title 13 of those 19 years. He did not take a salary during his tenure.
Durrell Robinson, a 3-star Rivals running back, is Coach Poggi's best recruit. He's also the best recruit for Charlotte ever. It's probably no coincidence that he's from Maryland, where Poggi was a high school coach legend for two decades. Maryland has two other notable recruits: Colin Coates, a two-star DT from Rivals, and P.J. Wilkins, a two-star OL who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 325 pounds.
The offense features transfer quarterback Jalon Jones. He threw fourteen touchdowns and seven interceptions last year at Bethune-Cookman. Originally signed by Florida as a 3-star recruit, he's an upgrade at the position.
It's difficult to predict the performance of a 64-year-old first-time college head coach. Poggi appointed Jonathon Jacobson, a former financial guy, as the program's assistant head coach and Senior Advisor. They have known each other in the financial industry since high school. Until Poggi fleshes out the coaching staff, it's difficult to predict the type of offense that will be run, the defense to be set up, or other factors. The media enraged Coach Biff Poggi by selecting Charlotte last in the AAC, but there's not enough information yet to show that's a bad call.
The key dates to circle for Charlotte are MEAC team South Carolina State and Georgia State. This year, even Rice is improved, and the weaker teams are road games for Charlotte. Unless Poggi can institute a high-level system immediately, it may be another long rebuilding season for Charlotte.
Fanbuzz Facts: The Charlotte 49ers play at Jerry Richardson Stadium. Its capacity is only 15,314, and even that amount of seats rarely sells out — but his goal is to change that. The stadium is Matrix artificial turf. Mark your calendar for the game at Maryland on Sept. 9 on Peacock, the game at Florida on Sept. 23 on SEC Network, and the Florida Atlantic game on Oct. 27 on ESPN2.
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