4 min read

Has it actually been a really good two weeks for BYU hoops?

Has it actually been a really good two weeks for BYU hoops?

I watched a TikTok video of some chemist the other day. He stated five different facts about cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease, and the use of artificial and synthetic foods in America. He didn't make any direct claims linking those five facts together, but his intent was clear.

Is it accurate information? I have no idea. I'm not here to write about cholesterol or Alzheimer's or any random chemists on TikTok. What I am here to do is steal this dude's format and present you with five separate facts and you can make your own conclusion.

Fact The First: Kentucky hoops can outbid BYU (and just about everyone) for any player they want.

I'm not a news breaker because that's not my cup of tea, but suffice to say that there was a sizeable NIL package put together for Richie Saunders at Kentucky. I don't know what BYU's offer was, but I can confidently say that it wasn't where Kentucky's was - at least not at first.

Saunders would have been paid well to be a Kentucky Wildcat. As competitive as BYU is (and, boy, they're a whole lot more competitive than anyone realizes or is ready to admit), Kentucky could have simply increased their offer higher and higher for Saunders. The NIL funds for Kentucky hoops are seemingly endless.

And Richie Saunders chose BYU anyways.

Fact The Second: Mark Pope has attempted to bring multiple BYU players with him to Lexington.

Saunders took a visit to BYU. It was public. The Popes didn't even let Saunders get off the escalator at the airport before they were there hugging him (kind of insane if you really think about that).

Kentucky insiders Crystal Ball'd Suanders to Kentucky. Fans had basically written the Saunders name in stone as one of their most important glue-guys for next year.

Saunders is coming to BYU.

Pope tried to recruit Aly Khalifa as well. Khalifa included Kentucky in his top 3 schools and actually transferred to the state of Kentucky. But he went to rival Louisville, not Kentucky.

Pope would have loved Jaxson Robinson to follow him to Lexington. If you remember those endless NIL funds that we mentioned, Kentucky could have made an appealing offer for him. But Robinson didn't bite. He is going to the NBA (hopefully) and training at BYU in the process.

Sources have indicated to us that Kentucky made a run at Dallin Hall, but they were quickly rebuffed and Hall has been focusing his attention elsewhere.

Pope wanted players to go from BYU to Kentucky. So far, the only one who has, is the only one who hasn't actually played for Pope yet.

Fact The Third: Pope's former BYU staff hasn't left in droves to Kentucky either.

Pope received a nice pay raise when he took the Kentucky job. He immediately brought his dude Cody Fueger with him, and he presumably received a healthy pay increase as well. Beyond that, though, there hasn't been much of an exodus from Provo to Lexington.

Kahil Fennell had left earlier. Nick Robinson wasn't invited. Keegan Brown, according to sources, isn't likely to leave. Nate Austin isn't going anyways. Collin Terry hasn't been reported to be moving. None of the GAs seem to be moving. The video team, the strength team, the mental health coaches, and the sports medicine folks all seem to be sticking around in Provo at this point. Maybe Pope's executive secretary will go with him?

Pope instead hired a G-League head coach, his longtime friend Mark Fox who had been fired as a head coach (and replaced by Mark Madsen), and well-resepcted assistant coach Alvin Brooks III who had been at Kentucky previously.

Pope's BYU structure hasn't followed him as he's set up his post-BYU life.

Fact The Fourth: Kevin Young got PAID by BYU.

We don't know what Mark Pope was making when he was at BYU, but I can say with absolute certainty that it wasn't as much as Kevin Young will make at BYU. Depending on which unverfied rumor you want to believe about Pope's BYU salary, he might not have been having even half of what Young will make in a year in Provo.

Boosters (yes, Ryan Smith is one of them) stepped up in a major way. BYU committed to a basketball coach in ways that they have never done before. The financial commitment to the new BYU coaching staff is unlike anything that BYU basketball has seen.

There is more NIL money sitting with the Royal Blue Collective than ever before and there is more excitement and willingness to contribute more money to collectices from fans are boosters.

Pope left BYU and the money came flying in.

Fact The Fifth (okay more like Opinion The First): There doesn't seem to any sleep lost with Pope gone.

I don't know what to make of this, but BYU basketball watched their coach leave and a few players immediately enter the transfer portal Since then, they've hired a coach with more excitement and energy than ever before, have reeled back a few of those players, and seen the good financial times continue to roll in Provo.

Nobody seems to be losing a wink of sleep as BYU heads into its new basketball future. If anything, it seems like people are sleeping even more peacefully than they were before.

Summary The End: Well... what do you make of it?

I won't tell anyone what to make of it themselves, but I'll tell you what I make of it:

Once BYU steadied the captainless ship, I think the outlook of BYU hoops got brighter. Kentucky fans are still grappling with the idea of a head coach who has never won an NCAA Tournament game and can't pull players from the roster that he left, but BYU fans are seemingly more optomistic about the future than ever before.

So, with the benefit of a couple of weeks worth of hindsight, what do I make of Mark Pope leaving BYU?