John Palermo, who has experience at the professional and collegiate level, is in his first season as a member of Rick Stockstill's staff. Palermo handles the defensive line.
Palermo makes his way to Murfreesboro after spending the last two years as the defensive line coach of the Washington Redskins. A veteran of 36 years of coaching, including a decorated collegiate career that spanned 31 seasons, Palermo is back at the collegiate level where he has enjoyed tremendous success.
In two years with the Redskins, Palermo's defensive line helped Washington rank fourth overall in yards allowed per game in 2008 and 10th in 2009. The unit was sixth in fewest points allowed in 2008 and ranked eighth overall in the league in sacks for 2009. Palermo coached Brian Orakpo in a dual role as linebacker and defensive end in 2009 and it led to a Pro Bowl appearance for the rookie.
Prior to joining the Redskins, Palermo was one of the most respected defensive line coaches in college football. He coached on 18 bowl teams, including Notre Dame's 1988 National Championship club and three Wisconsin teams that won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl (1993, 1998 and 1999).
Palermo's last collegiate coaching position was a one-year stint as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Tennessee Tech. Prior to that, he was a defensive line coach for one season at the University of Miami where he coached second round pick Calais Campbell. The Hurricanes defense, anchored by Palermo's line, set a school record by limiting opponents to just 252.0 yards per game and 66.0 rushing yards per game. The defense ranked among national leaders in total defense and rush defense.
From 1991 to 2005, Palermo served as an assistant head coach at the University of Wisconsin. He directed the Badgers' outside linebackers from 1991 to 1995 and the defensive line from 1996 to 2005.
While at Wisconsin, Palermo produced four first-team All-Americans. His players were selected Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year four times - two were named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year - and named first-team All-Big Ten nine times. Eight of Palermo's defensive linemen have been chosen in the first six rounds of the NFL Draft, including two - Wendell Bryant in 2002 and Erasmus James in 2005 - who were taken in the first round. Palermo's entire 2004 defensive line was selected in the NFL Draft the following spring. In 1990, Palermo spent one season as the head coach at Austin Peay University.
From 1988 to 1989, Palermo was the defensive line coach for head coach Lou Holtz at Notre Dame, helping the Fighting Irish win the National Championship in his first year. He helped tutor Chris Zorich, a two-time consensus All-American and 1990 winner of the Lombardi Award, given annually to college football's best lineman or linebacker.
Palermo coached the defensive line at Minnesota from 1984 to 1987, served as assistant head coach-defensive line and linebackers coach at Appalachian State from 1983 to 1984 and coached the defensive line at Memphis State from 1980 to 1982. He had a first stint at Austin Peay in 1979 as a defensive line coach. Palermo began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at North Carolina State from 1977 to 1978 after three years at Bainbridge High School in Georgia.
A native of Newburgh, N.Y., Palermo lettered at Florida State in 1972-73. He earned a degree in education from Florida State in 1974. He and his wife, Donna, have a son, Jason, who is the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at Southern University, and a daughter, Jessica, who works for the Big Ten office after getting her master's degree at Georgetown University.