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Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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Who is Mark Pope? A look into the career history of Kentucky’s new coach

Mark Pope. Image sourced from Instagram @coachmarkpope

Kentucky men’s basketball officially hired former Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope on Friday,  finally finding a replacement after longtime head coach John Calipari recently accepted the position at Arkansas.

Pope, who is 51 years-old, has been at the helm of the Cougars since 2019 and gathered a 110-52 overall record in that time.

This season, in BYU’s first year in the Big 12 — arguably the toughest conference in the nation this season — Pope led his squad to a 23-11 record and empowered it to be the No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it eventually fell to the No. 11 seeded Duquesne Dukes in the first round.

In this year’s Big 12 tournament Pope and the Cougars earned a first round bye and advanced to the second round where they tore down Central Florida 87-73. In the quarterfinals, they fell to Texas Tech, another NCAA Tournament squad, 81-67.

In recent years Calipari and the Wildcats had an extremely difficult time winning in the postseason and, unfortunately for the Big Blue Nation, Pope’s postseason track record doesn’t shine any light into that category as he is 0-2 in NCAA Tournament games.

Before accepting the head coaching title with BYU in 2019, Pope had three assistant coaching roles with Georgia (2009-10), Wake Forest (2010-11) and BYU (2011-15), before accepting the head coaching position at Utah Valley (2015-19). At the helm in Utah Valley, Pope sculpted together a 77-56 record.

From 1994 to 1996, Pope played for Kentucky and won the program its sixth national championship and actually starred as one of the team captains in 1996. In other words, he knows the significance of Kentucky basketball and how it’s do or die in the bluegrass. 

Now, with an official new dawn in Lexington, all of the rumors and chatter are officially out of the door, as it is now time to get to work.

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