It's official: Mark Pope will be Kentucky's next head coach

Three days after John Calipari's exit from the program, Kentucky will hire BYU coach and former Wildcat, Mark Pope.
Mark Pope cheers on his team as they face Duquesne in the NCAA Tournament
Mark Pope cheers on his team as they face Duquesne in the NCAA Tournament / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

That didn't take long.

Three days after John Calipari's sudden departure from his post as head coach of the University of Kentucky men's basketball team, BYU head coach Mark Pope was selected to be the successor to the line of legendary coaches from Lexington.

When a position like the Kentucky job opens up, it immediately becomes the coveted spot for coaches across the nation. Many coaches were speculated to be candidates, such as Baylor's Scott Drew and Alabama head coach Drew Oates who reportedly declined when offered the position by Kentucky officials. Mark Pope was rumored to be a contender for the position, along with Billy Donovan, Tommy Lloyd, and TJ Oztelberger.

Pope's inclusion among some of the best coaches in the nation was widely speculated to be due to his ties as a player; Kentucky was his alma mater when he played college ball. The hire surprised many, as a hire of this magnitude often takes more time than it did in this case. Pope is a risky hire: a new face in coaching circles who just completed his first season in a power conference.

Kentucky fans joined voices across social media to share their apprehension about the Wildcats' new coach.

But not all fans are viewing the hire skeptically.

Mark Pope is an out-of-nowhere hire, and is still largely unproven. He'll have a brighter spotlight shined on him than he ever did in Orem and Provo, but if his forward-thinking offense and infectious energy could be perfect for a team that consistently brings in some of the best talent in the country.

We'll forever be grateful for the way coach Pope brought BYU into the Big 12 era--he truly gave BYU all he had. BYU has some decisions to make now, but for now Cougar Nation wishes Mark Pope good luck on the next chapter of his coaching career.

Thank you, coach.

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