15 July 2024

A year ago at this time, Mark Pope’s seat was beginning to warm a little bit at BYU after the Cougars finished their final season in the West Coast Conference in a fifth-place tie with San Francisco and Pacific and failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year.

Now, he’s the head coach at Kentucky.

In the space of 12 months, the hyperbolic and ever-enthusiastic Pope went from having a mild case of the blues — by his standards — to one of the true blue bloods of college basketball.

Could Pope’s departure be a blessing in disguise for the Cougars? Yeah, probably not. Cal coach Mark Madsen’s Friday morning statement that he is staying in Berkeley ended that pipe dream.


When Pope’s name started to surface as a possible candidate for the Kentucky job when John Calipari bolted for Arkansas, my immediate thought was that BYU would be in a world of hurt if big-name candidates such as UConn’s Dan Hurley, Alabama’s Nate Oats and Baylor’s Scott Drew turned down the Wildcats and UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart pursued Pope.


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