Palermo Joins 2010 Blue Raider Staff

When the Washington Redskins' Jim Zorn was fired in January, it was only a matter of time before the team parted ways with a bulk of the remaining staff. That left John Palermo wondering where the 37th year of his coaching career would take place. It didn't take him long to figure it out.

When the Washington Redskins' Jim Zorn was fired in January, it was only a matter of time before the team parted ways with a bulk of the remaining staff. That left John Palermo wondering where the 37th year of his coaching career would take place. It didn't take him long to figure it out.

"I actually called Coach Stockstill and inquired about the position," says Palermo. "I was getting ready to go on a fishing trip down in Panama. I told him I'd be interested in talking to him about the job and he said he'd be interested, too." To comply with MTSU hiring policies, Palermo went ahead and faxed Stockstill his resume and went on his fishing trip. When he got back from Panama, he spoke with Stockstill on the phone and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raider head coach asked when he could come and talk about the job.



"I told him I'd come to Murfreesboro that day, so I did." Palermo said he drove down and met with Stockstill for three and a half hours. At the end of the meeting, they agreed that they would both take a night and think about it.



"He called me the next day and offered me the job," says Palermo. He immediately accepted. "At this point in my life, it's a great fit for me. To be able to work for a guy like Rick and stay close to home is a really great fit for me. I wasn't looking for a job where I was going to get rich or anything like that. I was looking for a job where I could work for a good guy at a good program."



Palermo was announced as the newest member of the Blue Raiders staff on Feb. 13. He will coach the defensive line, taking over for recently retired Les Herrin. While he spent the past two seasons in the NFL, Palermo is no stranger to the college game. He's coached in 18 bowl games at a number of perennial powerhouses and even boasts a National Championship ring that he won in 1988 with Notre Dame.



When asked about his prior knowledge regarding Middle Tennessee football, Palermo said, "I knew a little bit about Rick through the FSU connection. I went there and he went there. We didn't know one another very well, but you follow those guys. I knew that Middle went from the Ohio Valley conference to Division I and had good success lately."



This will be Palermo's fifth tour of duty in the state of Tennessee. He was as an assistant with Austin Peay in 1979, where he would later return to spend one season as head coach during the 1990 season. From 1980-82, he was on staff at Memphis State and he spent the 2007 football season with Tennessee Tech.



"My wife is from Tennessee, so we spent a lot of time in the offseason here," Palermo recalls. "A few years back, we built our dream home or whatever you want to call it in Monroe, Tenn." Thanks to the proximity, he will be able to drive home on weekends during spring practice and she can come to Murfreesboro during the season, which certainly helped make Middle more appealing.



"You know, [Middle] wasn't initially on my radar. I had time to sit back and reflect about what I wanted to do as a football coach, and it was sort of like 'why wouldn't I want to go down there and coach for a good guy?' It wasn't about ego. It wasn't about money. It was about enjoying coaching."



Along with his Tennessee college experience, Palermo has spent time at Appalachian State (1983-84), Minnesota (1984-87), Notre Dame (1988-89), Wisconsin (1991-2005) and Miami (2006).



Additional Notes:



Palermo says that he hasn't had any contact with recruits from the recent signing class. His main focus is to get to know the guys on campus.



When asked about recruiting, he said that he currently isn't assigned a specific recruiting area. He'll mostly be in the office (another role he inherits from Coach Herrin), handling day-to-day functions and dealing with the players, although he could go see a recruit or D-lineman from time to time as need be.


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