Derek Dooley says John Palermo 'most respected defensive line coaches in the nation'

John Palermo

John Palermo

The newest assistant coach at Tennessee is now its most experienced.

Longtime coaching veteran John Palermo has agreed to join Derek Dooley’s staff as the new defensive line coach, UT announced Friday.

“John is one of the most respected defensive line coaches in the nation,” Dooley said in a UT release. “He has a history of coaching and developing multiple All-Americans, all-conference players, first-round draft picks, and Pro Bowl players. Adding a coach with John’s abilities and successful track record will have a positive impact on our defensive line and our program.”

Palermo’s deal will be for two years, a source told the News Sentinel. The source requested anonymity because it is not authorized to speak publicly on personnel matters. The deal follows suit with the recent agreements reached with new running backs coach Jay Graham and new offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

New defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri’s contract will run through three seasons.

Palermo, 59, replaces Lance Thompson, who left UT last Sunday to take Sunseri’s vacated position as outside linebackers coach at Alabama.

Palermo’s most recent stop in a 37-year coaching career was at Middle Tennessee State. After two seasons, he resigned in December to pursue other opportunities.

“I am very grateful and appreciative of John and what he has done for the program the last two years,” Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Stockstill said in a university release. “He definitely made an impact in our program and did a nice job of developing our young defensive linemen. I think highly of him and wish him the very best.”

The majority of his career was spent at the collegiate level but he recently worked two years as defensive line coach for the Washington Redskins. With Palermo on the staff, the Redskins ranked eighth and 10th in total defense, respectively, in 2008 and 2009. He was out of a job when coach Jim Zorn was fired and replaced by Mike Shanahan.

Palermo, a Newburgh, N.Y., native, hasn’t had to leave the eastern half of the continent during his career. He’s worked at North Carolina State, Austin Peay, Memphis State, Appalachian State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Miami (Fla.) and Tennessee Tech. As a player, he lettered at Florida State in 1972-73.

Palermo was with the Fighting Irish in 1988 when it went 12-0, capping the national championship season with a Fiesta Bowl victory over West Virginia.

The bulk of Palermo’s career was spent at Wisconsin, where he served as an assistant head coach to Barry Alvarez while working with the outside linebackers (1991-95) and the defensive line (1996-2005). Palermo was responsible for the development of four first-team All-Americans and two NFL first-round draft picks. His entire starting defensive line in 2004 was selected in the following year’s draft.

When Alvarez moved on to a role as the school’s athletic director, Palermo moved on to Miami, where he spent one year as the defensive line coach. His stay was brief because it was ultimately coach Larry Coker’s final year with the program, as he was dismissed following the disappointing 7-6 campaign.

Palermo had a one-year stint as Tennessee Tech’s defensive coordinator/linebackers coach in 2007 before moving on to his first NFL job.

Palermo’s one year as a head coach didn’t go well. He was 0-11 at Austin Peay in 1990.

Dooley has two spots left to fill on his nine-man coaching staff. He’s still in the market for a special teams coach and another defensive assistant. Because Sunseri has so much experience coaching linebackers, it is likely that Dooley will look to add an additional coach for the secondary.

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 187

ATX_VOL_FAN writes:

well, I like how we found somebody to fill this spot. Don't know yet if this is a good hire. Only time will tell, but at least the spot is filled. He has coached in the NFL as well as other big CFB programs, so hopefully that translates to an upgrade from Lance. Looking forward to the 2012 season. Go Vols.

givehim6 writes:

Hope with all these new coaches it will give UT a strong D like we had in the 90's.

torchbearer writes:

Probably a better coach than LT, but I doubt he is as good of a recruiter. I wonder after SPT/TE coach is hired, what other position we will seek to fill? LB's?

Also, see this below...thought it was interesting in a crappy way

ELLIOTT BERRY SAYS HE’S HEARD ‘NOTHING’ FROM TENNESSEE
January 19th, 2012 03:38 PM║ Posted By: Josh Ward ║ Permalink
Many Tennessee fans are hoping to see brothers Elliott and Evan Berry sign with the Vols in 2014.

That’s because their older brother, Kansas City safety Eric Berry, was a star player at Tennessee from 2007-09.

There’s a long way to go until the Berry twins will be able to sign with a school, which might be a good thing for Tennessee. That’s because the Berry twins haven’t heard recently from anyone at the school.

“Nothing,” Elliott Berry told MaxPreps.com. “They fired the coach (Charlie Baggett) that has our area.”

Baggett’s departure from Tennessee was described by some as a “retirement,” although some close to the program believe the move was forced by the school.

Tennessee is expected to recruit Elliott and Evan Berry, who project to be two of the top athletes in the 2014 class, but the Vols will have plenty of competition. Elliott told MaxPreps he’s been offered by and has been hearing from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and LSU.

born2ride writes:

Good hire but Palermo is getting on a sinking ship.

BR_549 writes:

MTSU was 2-10 last year, beating only Memphis & FL Atl. The defense gave up 5,293 total yards this past season, most in school history. How is this a quality hire?

BR_549 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That statement could apply to several games this past season.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good hire but Palermo is getting on a sinking ship.

born2ride
Maybe you should just ride on down to Fl. They have a sinking ship maybe it is sinking much faster than UT's. I believe the Vols are starting to do much more than just float. Fl is the school that is sinking.

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

What...no connection to Saban or Alabama? Can this be right?

Munsterlander writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

time for your nap.

torchbearer writes:

Barring just a year of devastating injuries in 2012, I do not think losing to anyone on our schedule is acceptable other than Bama and UGA (i hate to say losing is acceptable at all). They are the only teams we play with better talent. Maybe could argue SC if Lattimore comes back strong. We also should play Bama, UGA and SC tough. If we do not win all but these 3 and are not competitive in all games, I feel that we have under achieved. If we cannot beat Florida when it is down with Musclown as coach in Neyland, we have the wrong coach.

sameolvolalum writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good hire but Palermo is getting on a sinking ship.

There's something running around in the barn you can ride on btr. The only thing sinking is your dinghy. I suppose it's your mother who made you so negative.

torchbearer writes:

What visitors are in this weekend? Who are we going after to round out this class? Any RB news?

Munsterlander writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're not very bright, are you?

No fan has been happy with the past 5 years.

We just hired a very experienced and successful coach who recently was the DL coach for the 8th and 10th best defense in the NFL, and all you can focus on is that his last stop was MTSU. More generally all you can focus on is this woe is me BS.

At some point hopefully you'll realize that, surprisingly, life goes on even when we have a down period. Thankfully there is more to it than how 18-22 year-old kids play on a Saturday.

Grow up.

graphpro#231211 writes:

Just as it took time to see just how badly Mike Hamilton sunk the athletic program. It will take time to see what Hart can do. It's a clean slate IMHO with Hart as AD.
Sunsersi was his first hire...we'll see how that turns out.
It would be great to see Sunsersi's contract. Hopefully there is a substantial buyout if he decides to leave early. Hamilton didn't seem to understand the concept of protecting the school with large buyouts on staff member (aka Kiffin and Wilcox).

nocleats writes:

Palermo can flat out coach. From an Xs and Os to fundamentals, energy, and teaching this is a very good hire.

sameolvolalum writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No apologies.....particularly to born-to-ride and you.....born-to-lose. Being in my 60's has provided for some growing up you can't imagine. To what "people" are you referring? Oh, I suppose that's us Vol fans. Drugs? I'm on heart, BP and prostate cancer meds.......quite a high, dude. I'm positive because I'm saved. You?

Munsterlander writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Guess I touched a nerve. Odd that you can be so brilliant but net out the situation to MTSU. With all that overwhelming intellect you'd think the scope of the rebuilding job would be clear to you. Patience, Grasshopper.

FWBVol writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't know how long you have been watching UT football, but if you go all the way back to 1990 you might be right about the 2011 Vols being the worst team ever.

However, history doesn't vaidated your claims. While Tennessee has never had a team to lose as many as eight games in a year, the 1906 team was 1-6-2 and the 1958 team was 4-6. Granted, that 58 team was 4-3 in conference play.

In 1977, the first year Johnny Majors was here, we were 4-7 and 1-5 in conference play. And yes, we lost to Kentucky that year.

A strong case could be made that if we had played the same 6 game SEC schedule in 2011 as we did in 1977, our record might have been 6-5. That's just a thought.

Were the 2011 Vols very good, not really, but injuries and attrition had something to do with it. But the worst team ever...I don't think so.

torchbearer writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Im am saying all of this despite who our head coach is. He did help bring in some of this talent, but am saying this team with any quality coach would win all but 3. On paper, with our roster, we should beat everyone except bama, uga and split between sc & uf. We should beat uf at home. All of that is being coach neutral.

Who do you think we would lose to besides those 3? Maybe MS St since it is in Starkville?

Razzle writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You want some cheese with that whine? LOL

seadaddy writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good hire but Palermo is getting on a sinking ship.

Troll-Attention Seeker,nothing more nothing less.

PHAT_VOL writes:

WOW ! Was dismissed after a 7&6 year at Miami.
I wonder what it would feel like to be 7&6?

torchbearer writes:

in response to 10seVol85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not sure on the rule, but obviously they could at least contact these guys. All of the other SEC schools are calling them just to touch base. Why in the hello has UT not? This is the kind of shart that gets me frustrated with Dooley.

Simply things like giving CLT a courtesy interview. What I am hearing is that CLT did not want to leave and was not necessarily mad about not getting the DC job, but that CDD handled it so poorly. Then they exchange words bc CDD is mad. I would leave too if I were CLT. CDD seems to be able to recruit decently if not well. But he seems to not be able to 1) bring in good coaches (Hart has to do this for him) 2) doesnt handle game situtations well and 3) handles little things like CLT & Baggit poorly.

Hope he proves me wrong.

SummittsCourt writes:

This is another upgrade hire for Coach Dooley in my book. If you can't see that perhaps you are not looking big picture here. He has tons of experience in both the NFL and college ranks and will be an asset in recruiting (since that seems to be the only thing some people think about).

Over the next two years I believe the defense will be one of the best in the country given the experince the last two years have brought to the returning players.

Go Vols!

absolutenill writes:

When I look at all of your uninspired, lame, uninformed responses to articles on this website I die a little inside. All these pathetic Vol downers, conspirators and trolls have finally forced me to vent. Why do you insist on saying the most socially inept garbage possible. You spend your time trashing Dooley and the coaching hires and the former players and the writers. Yeah, Adams is borderline retarded, but it's a local rag so who cares. Dooley has yet to prove he has what it takes to get us there and this year will be very telling. Our PR of late has been terribad, but the air is clearing right before signing day and a certain up and coming DL recruit is doing wonders behind the scenes with his rock solid commitment to UT. I know nothing I say will stop the "Doolaid" jerk offs and I will certainly not contain the trolls with a plea for sanity, but I feel obligated as a contientous objector to state for the record that I am still buying into the V4L program and am tentative to wait and see what happens. Good luck Vols and Dooley. I see good things at work and only time will tell whether it's going to be a success or just good intentions.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to BR_549:

MTSU was 2-10 last year, beating only Memphis & FL Atl. The defense gave up 5,293 total yards this past season, most in school history. How is this a quality hire?

you are an idiot... Dick LeBeau couldn't do anything with that defense as talentless as it is.

Imagine how many yards they would have given up if it wasn't for his coaching instead of looking at the negative.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good hire but Palermo is getting on a sinking ship.

Actually, the only sinking ship is the one you play with in your mamma's tub every night. Time to stop being an negative ninnie nancy boy.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Some people choose to see the glass half full, but in this case - big picture - the glass just might be 3/4 full.

Time for you whiners and complainers to go away or get on board because when the winning starts you losers can't just change your name and say you're on board.

VOLSwestTN writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No this was not. Need to look at the data. Coach Fulmer's last year was the worst team in a while. They average 16-19 pts per game. Offense could not move.
Sorry but Dooley has enstilled some foundation with some playmakers that need to grow up. You haters have memory loss. Most of you haters have probably never played at the collegiate level. Dooley inherited a depleted team and does not get to over-sign players like the old days. He had young kids that physically and mentally are still growing! JUST WAIT AND BE PATIENT!! It will improve! HATERS go back to the daily jobs that you are good at and leave the coaching to the professionals. If the Alumni would do that we probably would not be in this mess from the start.

BR_549 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

you are an idiot... Dick LeBeau couldn't do anything with that defense as talentless as it is.

Imagine how many yards they would have given up if it wasn't for his coaching instead of looking at the negative.

And your calling me an idiot with that illogical reply. Dick LeBeau just lost to Tebow's offense who couldn't muster anything against New England. MTSU went to bowl games before Palermo got there. You just can't accept facts thru those orange colored glasses. Truth is no decent coach will come to this staff with all the current and anticipated turnover.

HopeisNotaCourseofAction writes:

in response to torchbearer:

Im am saying all of this despite who our head coach is. He did help bring in some of this talent, but am saying this team with any quality coach would win all but 3. On paper, with our roster, we should beat everyone except bama, uga and split between sc & uf. We should beat uf at home. All of that is being coach neutral.

Who do you think we would lose to besides those 3? Maybe MS St since it is in Starkville?

Yeah we're loaded for next year, no matter we last lost to sickly ukitten, barely pulled out a win over sandy and then celebrated like it was the NC game, could not score in the second half against anyone including the mighty mtsu, lost 1 receiver to injury and 'there went the deep threat' cuz no one could/would step up. Uh huh, we'll pound ga state, akron and maybe troy, and get blown out (again) by uga and alabubba, and lose the other SEC games (some may actually be close) in the 2d half cuz our HC is still "trying to figure it out" at half time.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are right BiVo,
It isn't always the coach that is a problem, it is for the most part lack of talent in smaller schools. But the coach can and does coach them up and as you said MTSU pretty well held UT's running game in check. That was with very little talent, good coaching. AS you say
Just sayin

OrangePride writes:

This off season has pretty much been the embodiment of Vince Lombardi's words when he came Green Bay his first year. "I may lose, but it won't be with the same old faces!" We will see how this works out.

seadaddy writes:

in response to Munsterlander:

You're not very bright, are you?

No fan has been happy with the past 5 years.

We just hired a very experienced and successful coach who recently was the DL coach for the 8th and 10th best defense in the NFL, and all you can focus on is that his last stop was MTSU. More generally all you can focus on is this woe is me BS.

At some point hopefully you'll realize that, surprisingly, life goes on even when we have a down period. Thankfully there is more to it than how 18-22 year-old kids play on a Saturday.

Grow up.

Great post,the dude is a VFL-WTAGG!(Vol for life when things are going great) !

orangeman1 writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

You are right BiVo,
It isn't always the coach that is a problem, it is for the most part lack of talent in smaller schools. But the coach can and does coach them up and as you said MTSU pretty well held UT's running game in check. That was with very little talent, good coaching. AS you say
Just sayin

MTSU was ranked 111th in the country against the run. Sure, MTSU doesnt have the talent that BCS schools have, but they also dont play the talent either. MTSU played the 116th ranked schedule in the country. I'm just presenting facts, not making a judgment on the hire.

Volunatic writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm relieved to be a 7%er.

seadaddy writes:

in response to CantStandCantStandSaban:

What...no connection to Saban or Alabama? Can this be right?

No the GREAT thing is there is no connection to Vandy!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

JB if you think Fl hasn't stepped down from Meyer you are sadly mistaken. They will fall further yet, Charlie W is a pretty good OC not anywhere near great but good. He knew when to get off. Yes the Vols were a sunk ship but that was not this Coaching staff's doing. They have recruited well and should be very good this year. I think they were ready last year until the injury bug hit and we just didn't have enough depth to cope with it. As far as being a homer... well lets just drop that pass. Vol's 9-3 this year. Fl 8-4
GBO

TNSORRYTEERS writes:

Who??

SummerfieldVol writes:

in response to BR_549:

MTSU was 2-10 last year, beating only Memphis & FL Atl. The defense gave up 5,293 total yards this past season, most in school history. How is this a quality hire?

Probably a good coach. MTSU does not get your 4 and 5 star players, so their defense is not going to be tops in the league. He has alot of experience and experience counts for alot in this sport.

papavol writes:

in response to BR_549:

MTSU was 2-10 last year, beating only Memphis & FL Atl. The defense gave up 5,293 total yards this past season, most in school history. How is this a quality hire?

Because the athletes he had to work with were exactly blue chippers. Its MTSU dude, I guess you didnt read the other part of the article about going 12-0 at ND, or the stats with the redskins, or his other 30 some odd years of winning. Next time, try to read the ENTIRE article.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to orangeman1:

MTSU was ranked 111th in the country against the run. Sure, MTSU doesnt have the talent that BCS schools have, but they also dont play the talent either. MTSU played the 116th ranked schedule in the country. I'm just presenting facts, not making a judgment on the hire.

Also, MTSU was ranked 90th in the country in sacks with 19

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to nocleats:

Palermo can flat out coach. From an Xs and Os to fundamentals, energy, and teaching this is a very good hire.

Don't tell that to some people on here..They see where he coached prior to this and automatically think it's a bad hire before they even read his resume.

As for the "sinking ship" analogy, it's getting old because Dooley is having no trouble recruiting or hiring coaches..People are gonna think what they're gonna thinkg anyway..We could have the #1 recruiting class and hired the best DL coach(whoever that may be,matter of opinion) and people would still be complaining that Dooley can't recruit or hire coaches.

Smokey says read the resume then see the product on the field because then we will know what kind of hire this is..Looks good on paper, so that's all we have to go on..

SIMSVOL writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What a clueless post JB. This is a great hire of a seasoned college football pro. Nice get. Go VOLS!!!

Supersayin1 writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude STHU!!!! Any person with a brain can tell you are not a Tennessee fan! Seriously why do you trolls come on here for every story? What do you honestly gain from your negative comments?

1. UT Join C-USA over a few years of drama? Get real, UT is the only school in the SEC next to Bama with the most wins, Most bowl game appearences, Most SEC titles, and Most National Titles. Why the Hell would any real UT fan suggest we join C-USA... Heck any true fan of the conference loves the competition the SEC gives eachother.

2. Since when has it really mattered what college a coach came from if he can help the team he's with now. Perfect ex. Gene Chizik I wonder what he did in 2010???

3. No true Tennessee fan would ever talk down on his team, no matter how bad the seasons past have been.

4. It's so funny how all the people who get paid to talk about sports via their true knowledge continue to say UT is on track for something special, and a Monster is growing in Knoxville, yet only pathetic Trolls and newbie weak fake fans are the only ones who can't see the talent that we have, and see whats growing at UT.

I'll end with this remember the experts predicted the past two seasons under Dooley, yet they also said in 2012 Watch out for the Vols. I think i'll take their words, and what i've been seeing with my own eyes over what idiots and trolls say any day.

UT is gonna hit like a Hurricane in a glass factory just wait and see..... And if you feel to reply to my comment with an insult or something negative, well that just proves that you are simply a Troll with no life, and not a true UT fan!

GO VOLS!!!!

SummerfieldVol writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Look up conceited in the dictionary and see if it fits you. Looks like a perfect fit.

BR_549 writes:

in response to papavol:

Because the athletes he had to work with were exactly blue chippers. Its MTSU dude, I guess you didnt read the other part of the article about going 12-0 at ND, or the stats with the redskins, or his other 30 some odd years of winning. Next time, try to read the ENTIRE article.

Next time try some COMMON SENSE in your reply with the orange colored glasses on. Dooley could hire a goat in a houndstooth cap and some of you here will say its a great hire. MTSU plays in the Sun Belt conference, they get their share of "blue chippers" for that conference. They went to bowl games in 2009, before Palermo got there and in 2010, his first year. Last year his defense allowed 36.8 points per game. 1988 is ancient history when he was 12-0. He has most recently been let go at Miami and MTSU. So this isn't Buddy Ryan you people are landing all this praise on. His stats with the Redskins, 8th and 10th, thats almost middle of the pack of 32 teams. I would rather have the goat in the houndstooth cap.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

JB, I've been around long enough to know about preparing for a test. There is also a thing called cheating. So it is foolish to go around bragging about your percentile, sure makes you look bad when other high ed. people see it. I've seen some of the best resumes in this country and from people that went to great schools. A fair % of those were flat out dud's. Not saying you aren't smart but it is what others think about you that means something, anyone can daydream.

Supersayin1 writes:

in response to Munsterlander:

You're not very bright, are you?

No fan has been happy with the past 5 years.

We just hired a very experienced and successful coach who recently was the DL coach for the 8th and 10th best defense in the NFL, and all you can focus on is that his last stop was MTSU. More generally all you can focus on is this woe is me BS.

At some point hopefully you'll realize that, surprisingly, life goes on even when we have a down period. Thankfully there is more to it than how 18-22 year-old kids play on a Saturday.

Grow up.

Great Post!

BR_549 writes:

in response to Supersayin1:

Dude STHU!!!! Any person with a brain can tell you are not a Tennessee fan! Seriously why do you trolls come on here for every story? What do you honestly gain from your negative comments?

1. UT Join C-USA over a few years of drama? Get real, UT is the only school in the SEC next to Bama with the most wins, Most bowl game appearences, Most SEC titles, and Most National Titles. Why the Hell would any real UT fan suggest we join C-USA... Heck any true fan of the conference loves the competition the SEC gives eachother.

2. Since when has it really mattered what college a coach came from if he can help the team he's with now. Perfect ex. Gene Chizik I wonder what he did in 2010???

3. No true Tennessee fan would ever talk down on his team, no matter how bad the seasons past have been.

4. It's so funny how all the people who get paid to talk about sports via their true knowledge continue to say UT is on track for something special, and a Monster is growing in Knoxville, yet only pathetic Trolls and newbie weak fake fans are the only ones who can't see the talent that we have, and see whats growing at UT.

I'll end with this remember the experts predicted the past two seasons under Dooley, yet they also said in 2012 Watch out for the Vols. I think i'll take their words, and what i've been seeing with my own eyes over what idiots and trolls say any day.

UT is gonna hit like a Hurricane in a glass factory just wait and see..... And if you feel to reply to my comment with an insult or something negative, well that just proves that you are simply a Troll with no life, and not a true UT fan!

GO VOLS!!!!

Check your little pill medicine box you carry around, I'm quite sure the tab that says "friday" is still full underneath.

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