Charlotte 49ers

Charlotte's 8-1 start to conference play is as big a surprise as anything we've seen in local or national college basketball this season, and tonight they put that record on the line at South Florida, who is also 8-1 in the AAC. Unlike FAU or Memphis, the only way Charlotte will hear their name called on Selection Sunday is if they win the AAC Tournament next month after a slow start in non-conference play eliminated any chance at being an at-large bid. A win tonight would further help their chances of being the #1 seed in that event, making the path easier to winning three games in three days. 

Last summer, former 49ers head coach, Ron Sanchez resigned from his position as head coach, to return to Virginia as an assistant. Sanchez, who was going to enter the 2023-24 season on the hot seat, didn't wait to be fired, but in the process left the Charlotte program in disarray. There is never a good time to walk out on your program, and the kids you recruited, but in today's era, of the transfer portal, along with NIL, it put the future of the program in even further danger. 

There wasn't a coach that talked more than Charlotte head football coach, Biff Poggi did last year in the preseason, entering his first season on the job. Poggi made bold proclamations that the 49ers would finish top-15 nationally defensively, and would compete to win the AAC, in their first year as a member. None of those things happened, as the 49ers finished 3-9 on the season, and they were 89th in scoring defense. 

The 2023 college football regular season has come and gone, with Championship Weekend just a few days away, and the Charlotte 49ers won't be featured in the AAC title game. After the preseason was highlighted by first-year head coach Biff Poggi, making bold claims about his team, and challenging his fan base to give more money, all the talk, didn't translate onto the field, as Charlotte went 3-9. Had Poggi not made headlines all preseason long, this wouldn't have been seen as a major disappointment, but when your head coach talks the way that Poggi did, it doesn't help. 

The Charlotte 49ers entered last weekend at 2-6, needing to win out to qualify for a bowl game, in the first year under Biff Poggi. That possibility looked bleak, when Charlotte found itself down 17-0, on the road to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Instead, for the first time really all season, they responded well to adversity and would force overtime, eventually winning 33-26.

Believe it or not, we are in the final month of the college football regular season, as the calendar has turned to November. Back when the season began, 49ers fans were dreaming of making a second-ever bowl game, after an off-season, headlined by the hire of Biff Poggi, followed by the new head coach, making bold claims about how competitive his program would be. Instead, Charlotte finds itself at 2-6, needing to win their remaining four games, to qualify for a bowl game. Those remaining four games, come against Tulsa, Memphis, Rice, and South Florida, with Tulsa being the only team on the schedule with a losing record, making it hard to envision them qualifying for a bowl game. 

After a lot of talk in the off-season about how much improved the 49ers were going to be defensively, and as a team, Biff Poggi finds himself 1-4, entering the bye week, with competitive losses to Power 5 programs, Maryland and Florida. With that in mind, it is time for the program to reset expectations for the rest of 2023. 

After Jets quarterback, Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury on the fourth play of the game against the Bills, the outlook for that position is currently up in the air. Publicly the Jets have made it known that they are confident in Zach Wilson after he helped lead them to a comeback win on Monday night, but this is a guy who was benched in favor of journeymen backups just last season. With the move to trade for Rodgers, the Jets are built to win now, and for guys like Robert Saleh, and Joe Douglas, they can't afford to see another losing season go by. 

When Mike Hill made the decision to fire Will Healy eight games into the 2022 season, he knew then that he was going to have to think outside the box, to find the right guy to lead his football program. Healy was able to guide the 49ers to their first-ever bowl game, but could never build off that season, and with Charlotte set to make the move to the AAC, they needed someone capable of taking the team to new heights. 

The 2023 college football season is upon us, with multiple conferences having already conducted their media days, and others hosting theirs this week, including the AAC. Earlier this month, Charlotte officially joined the American conference, as they set to take the next step as an athletic department. Another move made by Charlotte this off-season, was to hire Biff Poggi, who served as the assistant head coach at Michigan and was credited for helping return the Wolverines to among the nation's elite. The hiring of Poggi was unique in many ways, as he's a former high school coach, in addition to being a self-made millionaire, making a living on Wall Street. It didn't take long for Poggi to make his presence felt, stating boldly that the 49ers would be among the top 15 defenses in all of college football, and making it known that he was not happy with the current financial state of the program.