Photo: Courtesy of The Denver Post
On paper, Denver Men’s Soccer’s schedule looks like a suicide mission. This upcoming season, DU men’s soccer will be playing collegiate royalty, many of those contests on road – but that is exactly the way Franks wants it. Never one to hide his ambitions, Franks said, “The goal of the program is to win a National Championship. To be able to win six knockout games, we have to go up against the best – It’s not about having the best record going into the NCAA Tournament, it’s about being the most prepared we can be for knockout style football in November and December, and this schedule will do that for our group this fall.”
Denver announced their 2019 Schedule. And, it is chalk full of challenges – especially on the road.
How about early season consecutive road games against Washington, Seattle, Indiana, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Cal? And, then, mid-season jaunts to St. Louis, Tulsa, and Duke. A the end of this scheduling gauntlet, next fall’s squad will be either mentally broken or rock solid, depending on how they weather the storm.
It would be tough to bet against Jamie Franks, though. After all, he built the 2016 National Coaching Staff of the Year and has put together a record of 61-12-10 in four years guiding the Pioneers. Franks put the challenge to his team to be able to win in “any condition, any field, any day”
High mid-majors often get comfortable racking up wins against other mid-majors and taking their chances in the one-and-done NCAA Tournament. But not Franks. As the unquestioned top men’s NCAA program in the state of Colorado, DU has its sights set on much more than a one-and-done NCAA tournament berth. And Franks was talking about national championships well before anyone else thought it was a realistic possibility.
A similar model to build a national profile has been used by DU in hockey, gymnastics, and men’s lacrosse. But the first step requires solid coaching, a winning culture and a roster of players capable of competing at the top level.
We’ve said it before, but women’s lacrosse and women’s volleyball are two other programs at Denver building toward national prominence as well. The trick is the timing of the move to grade A scheduling. Too early and a team’s confidence can be destroyed. Too late, and a team may have fallen into a comfortable rhythm of dominating lower-tier opponents and is ill-prepared to step up against a superior level of competition.
Last season, with a tough schedule, Denver men’s soccer finished 15-4-2 and 20th in the national rankings. Next season, with an even tougher schedule, Franks and his Pioneers expect to make some serious national noise.