Kentucky has its guy: Mark Pope set to receive 5-year deal

Mark Pope is set to receive a five-year deal with the Kentucky Wildcats to be its next head coach.
Mar 20, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA;  Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope talks with the media
Mar 20, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope talks with the media / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

After an unexpected and whirlwind of a week, Kentucky and Mitch Barnhart have the replacement for John Calipari — Mark Pope.

Late on Thursday night, reports started to circulate that Kentucky had targeted BYU head coach Mark Pope as its guy. It’s reportedly a five-year deal worth $5.5 million a season, according to CBS Sports college basketabll insdier Matt Norlander.

Who is Mark Pope? Well, he’s a familiar face for Kentucky fans. Pope was a member of the 1996 National Championship team for the Wildcats under Rick Pitino. 

From a coaching perspective, Pope spent the last five years at BYU, putting together a 110-52 record. He made two NCAA Tournament appearances with BYU in 2021 and 2024. He has an 0-2 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament. 

He had a run to the NIT quarterfinals in 2022.

In his five seasons with BYU, Pope had four 20+ win seasons. Pope’s best season was a 24-8 year in 2019-20 when the NCAA Tournament was cancelled. 

During his five years, BYU was ranked in the top 25 in four seasons and finished ranked in the top 25 of the AP Poll in two seasons. 

It ended an eight-year drought without a top 25 appearance. 

The Cougars lost to Duquesne in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this season. 

Before BYU, Pope spent four seasons at Utah Valley State where he went 77-56 overall. 

The Pope hire has certaintly stirred up the Kentucky fanbase, both with positive and negative responses of the news. Either way, he's the guy whether they love it or hate it.

Kentucky is coming off of 23-10 record and first round upset loss in the NCAA Tournament to Oakland. 

Kentucky hasn’t made it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 2019 and are 1-2 in the past three tournament appearances. 

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