Kentucky fans outraged over Mark Pope’s return to Lexington as John Calipari’s replacement

Kentucky is reported moving towards a deal with former player Mark Pope as John Calipari's replacement, but Big Blue Nation is doing whatever it can to prevent hiring.
Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope
Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope / Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Typically, when a program hires a former player who led the team to a national championship, the fanbase rejoices. However, when you’re Big Blue Nation and are forced to settle for a head coach who has yet to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, that hiring is met with vitriol. 

Kentucky fans are not happy that athletic director Mitch Barnhart is reported moving to hire BYU’s Mark Pope to replace John Calipari as the program’s head coach and they’re ready to let him hear it. 

Scott Drew, who won the 2021 National Championship at Baylor, was the candidate that Kentucky had honed in on, but after Drew’s family visited Lexington, he decided against leaving Waco Texas in a bizarre announcement. 

So quickly after learning that Drew wasn’t interested in the job that Alabama’s Nate Oats and UConn’s Dan Hurley had already turned down, Barnhart moved very quickly, working towards an agreement with Pope. 

The decision clearly does not have the support of the fanbase, and the speed with which it got done doesn’t seem to help. It seems that half of Big Blue Nation has mobilized to prevent a deal from getting done between Barnhart and Pope, while the other half has started a campaign to #firemitch. 

Pope was a beloved former player, leading Kentucky to the 1996 National Championship as one of Rick Pitino’s team captains. However, it’s clear that most of the fanbase does not want to see him back in Lexington. 

Beyond, Hurley and Oats, former Florida head coach Billy Donovan was rumored to be a candidate for the job, but he was unlikely to leave the Chicago Bulls to return to the college game. 

The good news for Kentucky fans who are hoping for a Greg Schiano situation (where administration goes back on a job offer because of fan outrage) is that the latest reports say that Kentucky and Pope have yet to finalize a deal.

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