Dec. 9, 2016Vidovich Disciples Head to Final Four
PITTSBURGH – On Friday, Dec. 9, four teams will try to survive and advance one last time in a quest for the 2016 NCAA College Cup. Of those four, two have strong ties to Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich.
“It’s a unique tie,” Vidovich said.
Vidovich played a pivotal role in the careers of the two people leading Wake Forest and Denver into the biggest games of the year: Bobby Muuss, head coach of Wake Forest and former assistant under Vidovich, and Jamie Franks, head coach of Denver and former player under Vidovich.
Before all his success at Wake Forest, where he spent 21 years at the helm, Vidovich started his coaching career at Denver.
Since his first gig in 1982, times and roles have changed, but the goal of building national powerhouses has remained the same.
Muuss played a special role in developing the Demon Deacons into a powerhouse with Vidovich from 2001 up until the 2007 season. That year, Muuss left Wake Forest to take a head coaching position at Denver while Franks, in his junior season, lifted the College Cup trophy.
“Bobby had been with me at Wake Forest for about seven or eight years and once the Denver head coaching position opened, I almost had to convince him to take it,” Vidovich said. “But he went and had a lot of work to do to take that team to the next level. He did a great job putting a winning culture in place.”
Shortly after graduation and a few years in the professional ranks, Franks started taking steps towards his passion of coaching. In 2009, he joined the Wake Forest coaching staff as the Director of Operations then enjoyed a two-year stint as a volunteer coach.
“Once Bobby took over [at Denver], there was an opportunity for Jamie to take a paid coaching position at Denver, so he went there to continue coaching,” Vidovich said. “Jamie was part of a special group at Wake Forest that went to three Final Fours. He’s a special guy and I knew he would be a fantastic fit at Denver with Bobby.”
During his time at Denver, Muuss was named Summit League Coach of the Year in 2013, won Summit league titles in 2013 and 2014 and captured the league tournament titles in those same seasons. Muuss also led the Pioneers to back-to-back NCAA appearances, the first in school history.
The duo of Muuss and Franks at Denver was more than impressive. They developed professional players, All-Americans, and so much more.
New opportunities presented itself in 2015 for all three coaches beginning with Vidovich stepping away from college soccer to join the Portland Timbers coaching staff in the MLS. With the head coaching spot vacant at Wake Forest, Muuss jumped at the opportunity to return to the Demon Deacons while Franks became the youngest head coach in Division I soccer at Denver. Things came full circle for Vidovich when he returned to college soccer after accepting the head coaching position at the University of Pittsburgh.
Today, the three head coaches continue to build and instill the important traditions of family and success, one thing that was at the top of the list for Vidovich while at Wake Forest.
“The family aspect is great,” he said. “Even since I’ve been here at Pitt, the amount of contact I’ve had from former managers, players and everyone else, has been incredible. They’ve all taken the time to reach out and meet with our guys at Pitt and watch us play. Making these connections are very big in building the program. It’s almost like a mentorship program where guys are helping each other if they want to go pro, or even bigger, how they can help after their soccer careers have ended.”
“I think building a group and building that vibe that we’re all in this together will evolve into experiences of a lifetime.”
Tonight at 6 p.m. in Houston, Texas, at BBVA Compass Stadium, Vidovich will enjoy the moment of two people of the family that he developed play in the Final Four.
“The program is bigger than anyone of us,” Vidovich said. “It’s not the teams that are in the Final Four right now, it’s the programs. That’s why everyone keeps coming back. I’m proud of all that both programs have accomplished.”
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