Potential Kentucky Basketball Coach Candidates: Mark Pope Replaces John Calipari

Potential Kentucky Basketball Coach Candidates: Mark Pope Replaces John Calipari
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

  • 👀After 15 years in Lexington, John Calipari is out at Kentucky.
  • 🏀Scott Drew and Billy Donovan were the favorites to replace him, but both stayed put.
  • 📈Now, Mark Pope is officially the next Wildcats head coach.

JUST IN: The next Kentucky Wildcats coach odds board has settled, as Mark Pope is officially the new man in Lexington. 

With that in mind, BetKentucky.com - home to the best Kentucky sportsbook promos - put a bow on our list of head coaching candidates that AD Mitch Barnhart may have pursued to replace John Calipari before hiring Pope.

Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply. Play Responsibly.

Odds To Be Kentucky’s Next Basketball Coach

Below are the latest odds from BetKentucky.com, home to all things Kentucky sports betting, before the Pope hire was made official

CoachCurrent JobOddsImplied Probability
Billy DonovanBulls+22031.3%
Tommy LloydArizona+50016.7%
Mark Pope (hired)BYU+90010%
T.J. OtzelbergerIowa State+90010%
Bruce PearlAuburn+15006.3%
Shaka SmartMarquette+15006.3%
Brad UnderwoodIllinois+20004.8%
Rick PitinoSt. John's+20004.8%
The Field+80011.1%
Odds provided by BetKentucky.com and not available at Kentucky betting apps.

Our top candidate to replace Calipari in Lexington was 2006 and 2007 NCAA champion Billy Donovan (+220), who has been coaching in the NBA since leaving Florida in 2015. Donovan has gone a respectable 397-318 in the pros, but hasn't won a playoff series since his first season with the Thunder in 2015-2016. Now in his fourth season with the Bulls, Donovan's team sits five games under .500, and a lucrative offer to take over a blue-blood program like Kentucky may have been just enough to lure the 58-year-old back to college.

Alas, Barnhart decided to go with BYU head coach (and former Kentucky starter) Pope (whose last odds were shortened to +900 following Scott Drew pulling out of the race).

Arizona's Tommy Lloyd (+500) has gone 88-20 in Tucson with an AP Coach of the Year award on his mantle in 2022, and could have been next in line.

Meanwhile, Alabama's Nate Oats (previously +900) was off our board by the end, as the 49-year-old committed to remaining in Tuscaloosa amid rumors UK would come calling.

USA Today photo by Charles LeClaire.

Longshots To Replace Calipari

Longshot contenders who may have been considered in Lexington included Iowa State’s TJ Otzelberger (+900), while Bruce Pearl of Auburn and Marquette’s Shaka Smart (both +1500) could also have been in play.

BetKentucky.com will continue to keep close tabs on the Wildcats' offseason. In the meantime, check out our Kentucky Derby odds ahead of the race on May 4.

Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Must be 21+ to participate & present in KY. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. Visit BetMGM.com for Terms & Conditions. US promotional offers not available in NY, NV, or Puerto Rico.


Christopher Boan

Christopher Boan is a staff writer for BetKentucky.com. He has covered sports and sports betting for more than seven years and has worked for publications such as ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

Cited by leading media organizations, such as: