Rick Pitino says new Kentucky head coach Mark Pope 'will go on to greatness'

Rick Pitino is a strong believer that Mark Pope will do a fantastic job for Kentucky as its new head coach.
Rick Pitino Kentucky
Rick Pitino Kentucky / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages

While a lot of Kentucky fans were up in arms last night and early this morning when the news broke that former Wildcat and current BYU head coach Mark Pope would be taking over the reigns from John Calipari -- one notable former Kentucky coach was extremely excited about the hire.

That is Rick Pitino. Pitino coached Pope during the 1995-96 National Championship season for Kentucky and thinks Pope will go on to lead the Wildcats back to 'greatness'.

"Mark Pope will go on to greatness," Pitino said in a video on Twitter. "You can put it down ... nobody epitomizes the name Kentucky on the front of the jersey like Mark Pope."

'Greatness' hasn't been a term associated with Pope during his coaching days. While he's been very good at BYU over the past five years, he has just two NCAA Tournament appearances and is 0-2 all-time.

Pitino claps back at fans who think that's something to zero in on.

"What you don't realize is that it took Jay Wright 11 years to finally get an NCAA win. Billy Donovan was at Marshall for two years, didn't have an NCAA Tournament appearance, and went on to greatness," Pitino continued. "A lot of people talk about Jay Wright, Danny Hurley and Billy Donovan. They all had their trials and tribulations as well early on. Mark Pope went into the Big 12 this year and won at Kansas and beat Baylor at home and made it into the NCAA Tournament."

Having Rick Pitino in your corner -- and extremely vocal about the hire and in support -- is a great way to kick off a tenure ... especially at Kentucky.

Below is the full video from Rick Pitino.