Videos Resurface of Kentucky’s John Calipari Replacement, Mark Pope

John Calipari and Mark Pope

Getty John Calipari and Mark Pope

The University of Kentucky has found their John Calipari replacement.

On April 11, ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Jeff Borzello reported that the Wildcats are finalizing a five-year deal with BYU head coach Mark Pope

Kentucky fans’ initial reaction to this news was not good. Many on social media noted that Pope has never won an NCAA tournament game and never won a conference championship while coaching at BYU. 

But videos are now surfacing that showcase Pope’s charming personality, and are convincing the Kentucky faithful that Calipari’s replacement might suffice. 

One such video was posted on X by BYU insider Mark Harper in October 2022. Pope is rapping Eminem‘s iconic “Lose Yourself” song in a (successful) attempt to hype up BYU students. 

Pope is not afraid to let his hair down, so to speak. And since Kentucky is typically so serious about their beloved basketball program, Pope could be a breath of fresh air for the program.

Another video of Pope rapping a song from Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s “Hamilton” musical went viral on April 11.

Rap impersonations aside, Pope also has a personal connection to Kentucky. 

Mark Pope was a National Champion at Kentucky

Even before coaching his first game, Pope has already accomplished a lot for Kentucky basketball. 

As a player, Pope started his college basketball career at the University of Washington, where he played for two seasons and won the 1992 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.

Pope then transferred to Kentucky after his sophomore season. 

During the two seasons Pope played at Kentucky, they won the 1995 and 1996 regular-season SEC championships, the 1995 SEC Tournament title, and the 1996 NCAA Tournament.

Pope — who averaged 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in 69 career games at Kentucky — was also team captain of 1996 that National Championship team.

Past success at Kentucky aside, Pope proved his passion for Kentucky through another hilarious video that was posted on X by Tristan Pharis. 

Pope’s hiring statement also made his love for Kentucky known. 

“Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being,” Pope said. “The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.”

Wildcats Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said of Pope, “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.”

But is an exciting ride what Wildcat fans are looking for?

Joking Aside, Pope Needs to Win at Kentucky

Pope can rap and cheerlead all he wants. Kentucky fans will still expect him to win.

Considering Pope’s lack of postseason success as a coach, he’ll need to prove that he’s capable of bringing trophies back to Lexington. Especially because Kentucky’s initial hope was hiring UConn’s Dan Hurley, Alabama’s Nate Oats, or even former Villanova coach, Jay Wright. 

Calipari’s 15-year tenure at Kentucky set a high precedent for success.

Which is why the only thing Pope can do to win over Wildcat fans is, well, win.