'Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching': Mark Pope makes first comments since taking head coaching job

Mark Pope made his first official comments after being announced as the new Kentucky head basketball coach.
Brigham Young head coach Mark Pope yells to players in the first half during an NCAA basketball game
Brigham Young head coach Mark Pope yells to players in the first half during an NCAA basketball game / NATHAN J. FISH/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY

It's official. Mark Pope was announced as the next head coach of Kentucky on Friday morning and with that came his first public comments.

Pope, part of the 1996 Kentucky National Championship team, is a well-known name in and around the Wildcats' program.

He knows what it takes to win at Kentucky and also knows the pressure, pride and expectations that comes with being part of the program.

On Friday, Pope addressed the Kentucky fanbase and program in what he calls the 'pinnacle of coaching in college basketball'.

“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball. It’s the definition of blueblood program where hanging a banner is the expectation ever year,” Pope said in the official release. “Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul."

While the fanbase has seemingly been split about the decision to bring Pope back to Lexington, it's a decision that it'll have to live with, for now.

Pope is coming off a 23-11 record last year in BYU's first season in the Big 12, going 10-8 in league play. He helped lift the Cougars to wins over No. 7 Kansas, No. 11 Baylor and No. 24 Iowa State.

While his overall resume may not be up there with the Dan Hurley's, Scott Drew's or John Calipari's, his connection to the fanbase and program is certainly not something to pass over.

“Mark Pope not only brings an impressive record in nine years as a head coach, but also a love of the University of Kentucky and a complete understanding of what our program means to the people of our state,” Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart said.

“He fully embraces our high expectations and standards and I know that as our fans get reacquainted with Mark, they will be eager to join him on what promises to be an exciting ride.”

It was reported on Thursday night that Pope's deal with the Wildcats will be for five-years.

Pope will definitley have a major task on his plate to come out and win right away. And, the fan base will make sure he knows it.