The past few weeks have been a rollercoaster for the Kentucky basketball team. First, the Wildcats came into the NCAA Tournament as a three seed and had high hopes for a deep run after a good regular season. However, they fell victim to the biggest upset in the first round as they lost to 14 seed Oakland. A lot of people wanted John Calipari gone after that, and he actually ended up making the decision to leave on his own to go to Arkansas. Now, Kentucky has their new head coach, and it's former BYU coach Mark Pope.

“Mark Pope not only brings an impressive record in nine years as a head coach, but also a love of the University of Kentucky and a complete understanding of what our program means to the people of our state,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in regards to the hire. “As a captain on the ‘96 championship team, Mark was a beloved and respected teammate. As a head coach, he is highly regarded nationally as an innovator. His teams run a unique and dynamic up-tempo offense and they get after it on defense. He is a strong recruiter with international ties and a person of integrity. He fully embraces our high expectations and standards and I know that as our fans get reacquainted with Mark, they will be eager to join him on what promises to be an exciting ride.”

Kentucky basketball had some other targets before Mark Pope. They almost landed Scott Drew from Baylor, and also reportedly contacted Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan as well. At the end of the day, Mark Pope got the gig.

“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball. It’s the definition of blueblood program where hanging a banner is the expectation ever year,” Pope said. “Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul. I’m thankful to Dr. (Eli) Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. I’m proud to be your next head coach and I can’t wait to do this together!”

Mark Pope hire gets mixed reactions

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope reacts after losing their game against the Duquesne Dukes during the first round of the NCAA Tournament at CHI Health Center Omaha.
© Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Pope played college basketball at Kentucky and won a national championship with the Wildcats back in 1996. He is very familiar with the program, but there are still some people that aren't sold on this hire.

The issue people were having with John Calipari was his lack of NCAA Tournament success in recent years…

Kentucky basketball has very high standards, and some people clearly don't think Pope can meet them.

On the other hand, there are people that think Pope to the Wildcats is a good fit.

Andy Katz thinks that Kentucky fans are going to warm up to Pope soon and that they will like his style.

It is going to be interesting to see how Pope fares at his alma mater. There is a lot of pressure on him in this position, but he does have a good coaching resume. Also, it would be surprising if he doesn't snag that first NCAA Tournament win pretty soon.