HBO's new documentary The Cost of Winning tells the story of Biff Poggi, an unconventional football coach who nevertheless transformed the lives of many of the players he trained. The series has spurred interest in Biff's life and career, and also curiosity about where he is today. The Cost of Winning may offer some of those details, but it won't be able to cover everything that makes Biff's career so fascinating.
Who is Biff Poggi from 'The Cost of Winning'?
When audiences meet Biff Poggi in the documentary, they'll find that he's the coach of St. Frances Academy's powerhouse football team, which is based in East Baltimore. Before he became the team's coach, though, Biff played football himself. He was on the same college team as Dan Marino, a hall of fame quarterback who went on to play professionally.
After he graduated from college, Biff became a hedge fund manager and proved to be quite good at his work. He amassed a considerable fortune in his job, and it was that fortune that ultimately allowed him to return to the world of football. He took over the football program at St. Frances Academy and transformed it into a national powerhouse over the course of just five years.
Biff Poggi used his hedge fund to fund his team.
When he first joined the school's football program, Biff served as an assistant coach under the leadership of Jim Harbaugh, a legendary head coach who eventually joined the NFL. When he finally became the team's head coach, he transformed the program by dumping his own money into it. By spending roughly $2.5 million, he was able to recruit the best players from across the country.
Biff's decision to pour his own money into the program proved to be controversial, but it undoubtedly worked, and some found it admirable. Biff was taking kids from across the country, many of them from lower-income homes, and giving them a program that they could be proud of. Because they were in an elite program, Biff also gave many of these kids a better chance of ultimately going pro.
Where is Biff Poggi now?
Biff briefly left the program at St. Frances for an assistant coaching job at the University of Michigan. Ultimately, though, he decided to return to coaching at the school, in part because that job seemed to fulfill him more than his work at the college level had. He's continued to transform the program, although it led the team to be ejected from its private school league for being "too good."
Ultimately, though, what Biff cares most about is having an impact on the lives of his players. “I am so sick of going to dinner parties and enduring the chin-wagging from people who say, ‘Oh, my god, what’s happening in our country? Why are the jails full of African-American men? They don’t value what we value,'” Biff said in an interview with ESPN.
“I’m not listening to that nonsense anymore…We’re going to do it [help] one kid at a time, one year at a time, one team at a time," he continued. "We’re going to level the playing field."