Kentucky introduced Mark Pope as the new head coach of the men's basketball team on Sunday, and he made an epic entrance in front of a packed Rupp Arena crowd with his teammates from the 1996 championship team.

Mark Pope and his teammates from the 1996 Kentucky basketball team that won the national championship came out of a buss that pulled into Rupp Arena. Pope emerged from the bus last, holding the championship trophy. The crowd gave him and the Kentucky legends a great ovation.

As Kentucky and athletic director Mitch Barnhart went through the coaching search, seemingly getting turned down by Baylor's Scott Drew and UConn's Dan Hurley, Pope quickly became the target and the hire for the role. There was some frustration from the passionate Kentucky fanbase when it came to Mitch Barnhart getting turned down by candidates like Scott Drew and Dan Hurley, then turning to Pope instead pivoting to names like Bruce Bearl, Nate Oats and Billy Donovan.

However, days after the hiring, the Kentucky fanbase is clearly supporting Pope. He knows what the expectations are for him at Kentucky, and is not backing down.

“Every other coach tries to moderate expectations. We don't do that at Kentucky!” Pope said, via Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio. “I understand the assignment. We are here to win banners!”

Pope also made it very clear that this was a dream job for him.

“Mitch gave me a couple hours to talk to my family about this. He knew I didn't need it because I would walk to this job,” Pope said, via Jones.

Pope will try to stabilize a Kentucky program that had a lot of toxicity around it over the last few years with John Calipari at the helm. John Calipari departed for the Arkansas basketball job last weekend, which spawned this coaching search for Kentucky.

Mark Pope's Kentucky playing days and coaching career

As a player, Pope played the first two years of his college career with Washington in 1991-92 and 1992-93. Then he transferred to Kentucky, where he had to sit out a year in 1993-94, then played in 1994-95. His senior year was in 1995-96, and as previously mentioned, that team won the national championship.

As coach, Pope started out as the head coach of the Utah Valley program in 2015 and stayed there for four seasons. He led Utah Valley to 23-11 and 25-10 records in his last two seasons with the program, which helped him land the BYU job, where he stayed for five seasons and reached two NCAA Tournaments.

Pope does not have an NCAA Tournament win in his career, which is why some are voicing concerns in regard to the massive expectations that Kentucky has.

However, Mitch Barnhart believes in Pope being able to stabilize the program and thrive with the schemes he has. Pope is known as a very good offensive coach, and he hopes to lead Kentucky back to the promised land.