Something occurred to me during the politics and the pageantry of the search for the new University of Kentucky head basketball coach, and I'd like to share it with you.

The last time UK went looking for a new hoops coach, it was 2009. Facebook was in relative infancy, and Twitter--now X--was practically embryonic. It's something I also noticed during the 2012 presidential election; that was the first one with social media in full bloom.

Some Negativity-Spewing UK Fans Were the Loudest Voices on Social Media

And now, Kentucky has gone through a coaching search and made a hire in the worldwide fishbowl both of those platforms creates. As someone who closely follows X during college basketball and college football seasons--I love to know what the analysts are thinking in real time--I can tell you that it seemed like members of Big Blue Nation were going to ruin any chance Kentucky had of landing a qualified coach.

Title-winning coaches like UConn's Dan Hurley, Baylor's Scott Drew, retired Jay Wright, and the NBA's Billy Donovan (a two-time champ at Florida) all said no. Alabama's Nate Oats--a one-time Kentucky target--shot down the possibility before his phone even rang.

All of this was documented on social media, and members of the fan base viciously trolled anyone with the university about these declines. When it was revealed that Mark Pope--a player on the championship 1996 Kentucky team--was named the new head coach, I saw comments like "prepare to lose 20 games next season." And then check out THIS comment juxtaposed with the accompanying video:

And how's THIS for withering condescension?

There are countless other examples, but who wants to give THEM anymore space? Especially after the sold-out Rupp Arena press conference in which Pope was introduced featured a re-enactment of the post-championship celebration in 1996.

This is when it occurred to me that the negative squawkers on social media platforms are likely in the minority. This was a PRESS CONFERENCE, and it was SOLD OUT. The roar was deafening. The tradition and the connection to Kentucky's history was palpable.

I have faith in Mark Pope. He may not have the track record certain naysayers wish he had, but he knows what coaching at Kentucky means more than, probably, 99% of any other prospect knows. The passion, the love, the history, and the modern coaching chops. They are all there with Mark Pope, and I'm looking forward to the ride.

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