Stop asking for Mark Pope to thank BYU

BYU's former head coach doesn't owe his former team a public thank you.
Mark Pope speaks about his future with Kentucky in his introductory press conference
Mark Pope speaks about his future with Kentucky in his introductory press conference / Clare Grant/Courier Journal / USA TODAY

I'm going to say something that I expect won't be very popular among BYU fans: Mark Pope doesn't owe BYU his thanks, so stop begging for it.

He's moved on. We've moved on. And there's nothing wrong with that. I can understand why his silence since filling John Calipari's shoes at Kentucky can feel like a slight to his former team, and I get it--it's hard to suddenly part ways with someone who has meant so much to BYU's basketball program over the years. But like anyone who leaves any job for a new one, he shouldn't be expected to cry or lament his departure when he's focused on moving forward.

Taking over a blue-blooded program like Kentucky is no small task. Pope has likely worked himself to the bone over the past week and is currently fighting to hold his roster together, or lay the groundwork for future success. Right now, his program is bleeding highly rated recruits, so don't be surprised that he's focused on his new university, rather than the one he's moved on from.

Coach Pope gave so much to BYU and made incredible progress with a program that's struggled to remain relevant since Jimmer's 2011 season. Players loved to play for Pope--it's not surprising to see Collin Chandler follow him to Kentucky. He is an energetic and intense individual whose love for basketball is obvious, and his passion for the sport bleeds into his players.

Leading into the Big 12, no one thought the Cougars would be a serious force in a legitimate basketball league. Mark Pope's forward-thinking offense and recruiting/development victories like Richie Saunders, Aly Khalifa, Jaxson Robinson, and so many more can't be overemphasized when put into context with the hopelessness that some fans felt towards the end of BYU's time in the West Coast Conference.

Mark Pope, Spencer Johnson, Trevin Knell, Noah Waterman
Mark Pope rallies his players in a home game this past season / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

Considering what he's given to us, the fans, we should be ashamed if we've taken to Twitter or Facebook to talk about how much we hate Mark Pope, when we'd be singing his praises had Kentucky gone in another direction. Head Coach at Kentucky has been his dream job since he began coaching--we should be happy for him and leave him with our support.

Don't be a jealous ex who can't stand to see their former partner be happy in life. Instead, be more like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land--happy to see that they're both living their dreams independent of each other (seriously, that movie speaks to my soul). While Coach Pope landed the holy grail of coaching positions in Lexington, BYU is better equipped for success than ever before with the hiring of Kevin Young.

Mark Pope doesn't owe BYU a "thank you" message from his iPhone notes app. Recruiting BYU players to follow him to Lexington isn't personal; he cares about BYU and wants them to succeed. Kentucky's top recruits are leaving the program at a very high rate, and Pope has every right to lure players into his program if they choose to play for him.

I'm happy for Coach Pope and excited to see what he'll build with the Wildcats. Let me take this opportunity to say thank you for the great memories you gave me and many fans alike over the past few years. Thanks for everything, Mark Pope.

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