BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe says he keeps a list of coaches who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the top drawer of his desk at the Student Athlete Building on campus.

He will probably put it to use shortly, with reports that Kentucky is poised to hire five-year BYU basketball coach Mark Pope to replace John Calipari as soon as Thursday evening.

Holmoe will undoubtedly get inquiries from coaching search firms with prospects for the job, but as he always does, he will tell them the candidate pool is shallow and he doesn’t need help.

“I know a lot of guys that run search firms,” Holmoe told the Deseret News in 2019 after Pope was hired. “They call every time and go, ‘Hey, do you want us to help? I am like, ‘I know the two guys (who are Latter-day Saints), or the five guys, or the seven women. I know who they are.”

Could the school hire a head coach who is not a member of the faith? It did hire Diljeet Taylor, who was raised in the Sikh religion, to be its head women’s cross country coach in July of 2021.

A school news release noted that “while in the past head coaches throughout BYU Athletics have often been members of the church, it has been a practice but not a policy.”

However, there’s a big difference between a sport such as cross country — where Taylor has been wildly successful — and men’s basketball, both in terms of revenue and spotlight.

It is significant that Holmoe’s last major hire for a high-profile sport was women’s basketball coach Amber Whiting, a member of the church but a coach with no experience at the college level.

A former BYU player (2000-01), Whiting was serving as the head coach of a high school team in Idaho (Burley) when Holmoe made the surprise hire.

At the top of BYU’s wish list to replace Pope is undoubtedly Mark Madsen, the former Utah Valley coach who just led the Cal Bears to a good season and was rewarded with a contract extension.

A church member, Madsen is probably out of BYU’s financial reach, and he might not even want to coach at BYU, having been bypassed for the opening to replace Dave Rose when Pope was hired in 2019.

Without further ado, here are some of the top candidates who are members of the church that Holmoe will likely consider:

University of Utah assistant coach Chris Burgess

A former Duke and Utah player, Burgess assisted Pope at both UVU and BYU before joining Craig Smith’s staff at Utah two years ago. The Deseret News reported in May of 2022 that Burgess is paid $265,000 annually by the U., so his salary surely won’t be a roadblock.

Burgess had an 11-year professional career playing overseas in places such as Turkey, Australia, South Korea and Ukraine before getting into coaching.

BYU assistant coach Nick Robinson

If Holmoe decides to stay in-house and build upon BYU’s successful first season in the Big 12 — the Cougars went 10-8 and finished in a tie for fifth in the conference with Kansas after being picked to finish 13th — he will likely go with Robinson, who has helped BYU to a 110-51 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances.

A former Stanford player, Robinson was Southern Utah’s head coach from 2012-16 before being pushed out in Cedar City. Before joining Pope at BYU he was an assistant at Seattle from 2017-19.

UNLV assistant coach Barret Peery

Peery, who was hired to be an assistant by UNLV prior to the 2022-23 season, was a viable candidate five years ago when Pope got the job. At the time he was head coach at Portland State. He went 63-57 in four years at PSU.

Peery was an all-state basketball player at Payson High School in Utah and played collegiately at Snow College in Ephraim and Southern Utah University. He has been an assistant coach at Utah, SUU, UVU and Snow.

One of Peery’s career highlights came at Texas Tech, where he helped the Red Raiders become the No. 1 defense in the country in’s ratings.

Lehi High School coach Quincy Lewis

A former member of Dave Rose’s staff at BYU, Lewis applied for the job that went to Pope when Rose retired, then tried to land some other college head coaching jobs — such as Idaho State — before returning to the prep ranks. Having led Lone Peak to several state titles and even a national title, he recently coached Lehi to the 6A state championship.

Lewis could be considered a longshot, but he is highly respected in Utah coaching circles — high school and college — and is already familiar with the nuances of working for BYU.

Utah Tech coach Jon Judkins

The brother of former BYU women’s basketball coach Jeff Judkins, Jon Judkins is the winningest college coach in state history. He’s been at Utah Tech — formerly known as Dixie State — for 19 seasons and has compiled a 320-183 overall record, including a 300-171 record during the program’s NCAA era.

Before becoming the Trailblazers’ coach, Jon Judkins was Snow’s head coach for 12 seasons.

BYU women’s basketball assistant Lee Cummard

A former standout at BYU, Cummard was on Rose’s staff (2016-18) and generally viewed as a rising star in the profession. He has been on the women’s basketball coaching staff since 2019, and was a candidate for the job that went to the aforementioned Whiting.

He doesn’t have head coaching experience, but went 3-0 as acting head coach with wins over Utah State, No. 17 Florida State and No. 22 West Virginia. He has the endorsement of several past players who have remained close to the program, including Jonathan Tavernari.

OK, here are some longshots

One interesting name out there is Jimmer Fredette, the former Cougar and National Player of the Year in 2010-11 who is currently preparing to represent the United States in the 3x3 basketball competition at the Paris Olympics this summer.

He doesn’t have coaching experience, and has never said he desires to go into coaching, but he would be a splashy hire if he’s interested, and likely one heck of a recruiter.

Utah Valley women’s coach Dan Nielson, Snow College coach Andrew May, Wasatch Academy coach Paul Peterson, former BYU-Hawaii and former Wasatch Academy coach David Evans and Houston assistant K.C. Beard are also fringe candidates in part because they are members of the church.

What about non-members with close ties to BYU?

If BYU breaks precedent and goes beyond church circles, it would be, well, huge news. It is extremely doubtful.

But if it were to happen, BYU would do well to promote Cody Fueger, who has been Pope’s right hand man the past nine years at UVU and then BYU.

A lot of people close to the program say Fueger is the brain behind the operation, and he’s a solid recruiter, a family man and a man of faith.

New Salt Lake Community College coach Dave Rice, who left Rose’s staff for the head job at UNLV years ago, should also be considered, along with perhaps former BYU assistant Kahil Fennell, who took the head coaching job at UTRGV last week.