Kentucky is close to appointing a new head coach in a move that is surprising many. The Wildcats are reportedly in the final stages of securing a five-year contract with BYU’s head coach Mark Pope, as revealed by ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

Mark Pope, a former player for Kentucky in the 1990s, is remembered for his time under Coach Rick Pitino and his contributions to the team’s national championship in his senior year. Despite his commendable playing history at Kentucky, Pope’s coaching record brings an element of surprise to his appointment.

Since becoming a head coach in 2015, Pope has led both BYU and Utah Valley, achieving a notable 110-52 record with BYU over five seasons, which includes two NCAA tournament appearances. However, both tournament runs were short-lived, with his teams experiencing early exits.

The vacancy at Kentucky came unexpectedly this offseason, not due to John Calipari’s dismissal, but rather his departure amidst diminishing support from the Wildcats fanbase. Calipari’s exit followed a disappointing season that culminated in a first-round upset in the NCAA tournament, exacerbating the dissatisfaction that had been growing since his last championship win in 2012.

With the position vacated late in the hiring cycle and several high-profile coaches like Scott Drew declining the role, Kentucky’s options seemed limited. This context makes Pope’s impending hire particularly significant, considering he wasn’t the university’s initial choice.

Despite the unexpected path to his selection, Mark Pope’s history with Kentucky and his coaching achievements could mark the beginning of a new era for the Wildcats. However, it remains to be seen how this decision will resonate with the demanding Kentucky fanbase.



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