Big 12 Basketball

Anonymous Coach on Mark Pope: ‘Don’t Be Surprised if He Wins Immediately’

Dec 9, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope looks on in the game against the Utah Utes during the first half at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Pope officially became the 23rd coach in Kentucky men’s basketball history on Friday and will immediately become one of the most recognizable faces in college basketball.

Pope is tasked with replacing John Calipari, the man who spent 15 seasons leading the Wildcats to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, seven Elite Eight appearances, three Final Fours, two National Championship appearances, and one title (2011-12). Overall, Calipari led the Cats to a 410-123 (.769) record during his time in Lexington.

 

However, a changing of the guard won’t mean any dip in expectations. Big Blue Nation will expect Pope to win and win now. Kentucky is still the winning basketball program in college basketball history, regardless of who’s in charge.

Pope’s hire has already been met with plenty of speculation, with tons of Kentucky fans already writing him off as the right guy to lead the program. After the Wildcats failed to land their first two targets–Scott Drew and Dan Hurley–perhaps there’s some logic to that.

There are those among the coaching profession that believe that Pope will be successful right away though, according to Tristan Pharis of KYInsider.

“His recruiting style will be all about FIT and BUILDING the right team,” an anonymous coach told Pharis. “He will be very strategic in the type of guys he recruits. The days of 4-5 Burger Boys are over. Will be different than Cal.

“Also, don’t be surprised if he wins IMMEDIATELY.”

That’s a pretty strong opinion from someone who knows what it takes to stay on the court. Perhaps Kentucky fans should give the guy a chance?

After all, he did just lead a BYU team to a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a 10-8 record in Big 12 play after being picked to finish 13th in the 2023 preseason poll.

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