BYU's top 3 coaching candidates

With Mark Pope heading to Lexington, who can BYU bring on to fill his shoes?
Chris Burgess is currently an assistant coach for the University of Utah
Chris Burgess is currently an assistant coach for the University of Utah / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Nope, it wasn't a dream; Mark Pope will be leaving BYU for bluer pastures in Kentucky. With Pope's departure, it's hard to imagine what this could mean for BYU's program. Pessimism reigns supreme on the internet, but I want to use this article to get excited about who can come in to keep the Cougars' momentum going.

While the school has stated that membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn't a requirement for their head coaching position, they'll likely limit their non-member coaching pool significantly to prioritize members first--that's just how it's always gone.

So, with the head coach position empty for the first time since Dave Rose's departure, who should be on BYU's list of candidates, and towards whom should they focus most of their energy?

Chris Burgess - Assistant Coach at Utah

Branden Carlson, Chris Burgess
Chris Burgess celebrates with Branden Carlson as the Utes take on Arizona / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

Chris Burgess' name has been thrown around more than anyone I've seen--he's certainly the fan's pick if Twitter is to be believed (try to stop me from saying Twitter, I dare you). Burgess has previously coached as an assistant at Utah Valley, SLCC, Utah, and even BYU.

A former top recruit and player at Duke and Utah, Burgess understands the game at a high level. He's also an excellent recruiter, who was a big player in Collin Chandler's recruitment. Could bringing on Burgess be enough to keep Chandler in Provo? There's no way to be certain, but I'd argue that one player's commitment is a short-sighted solution to a long-term problem for the program.

Burgess left BYU's bench in 2022 for his Alma Mater in Salt Lake, which means that he's had a chance to coach some of BYU's upper-classmen like Knell, Fouss, and Atiki. Burgess is still largely unproven at the college level, and has yet to be the head coach for any team, but giving him a chance at BYU could be a great move.

Mark Madsen - Head Coach at Cal

Mark Madsen
Mark Madsen shouts to his team during a matchup with Oregon State / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Madsen is easily the biggest name on BYU's radar. He recently led Cal to their best season since 2020 after heading the best UVU team in history the previous season.

Madsen formerly played college ball at Stanford before playing significant minutes for the Shaq and Kobe Lakers in the early 2000s. He was an assistant for Los Angeles after being the head coach of their D-League affiliate D-Fenders.

Madsen has experienced some impressive success at each of his recent stops as a head coach and would be excellent for BYU's recruiting efforts. The Cougars want to keep their positive momentum going after Pope led the team to a dream start to their Big 12 era. Mark Madsen would be a no-brainer if his buyout from Cal doesn't get in the way of landing in Provo.

Barret Peery - Assistant Coach at UNLV

Barret Peery
Barret Peery consults with his fellow coaches at Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

Barret Peery has been around the block, accumulating a high number of assistant coaching jobs during his career with a few head coaching positions sprinkled in.

Peery was a candidate in the Cougars' 2019 coaching search following Dave Rose's departure. His highest-profile coaching job has been an associate head coach at Texas Tech, a fellow Big 12 school. His experience in the conference could be valuable for BYU, who could struggle to re-navigate its stormy waters without last year's captain.

He's had several head coaching stints, most recently a handful of seasons leading the charge for Portland State. Peery is a highly respected coach in basketball circles, so don't be surprised if you see his name brought up many times in the coming weeks.

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