Palermo, 59 years of age, spent his playing days at Florida State (1972-73) before beginning his coaching career at NC State in 1977. Since that time Palermo has coached at programs including Austin Peay (HC), Appalachian State (AHC/DL/LB), Minnesota (DL), Notre Dame (DL), Wisconsin (AHC, DL), Miami (DL), MTSU (DC) and the Washington Redskins.
Palermo fills one of three vacancies remaining on Derek Dooley's staff after having six assistant coaches depart his 2011 staff.
Tennessee's new defensive line coach replaces former coach Lance Thompson, who last week departed Dooley's staff to return to Alabama as its outside linebackers coach. Thompson's hiring was announced by Alabama on Wednesday.
"I'm really glad to be back at Alabama, and I appreciate the opportunity coach (Nick) Saban and Kirby Smart have offered me," Thompson said in a press release. "As a defensive coach, it doesn't get any better. I look forward to doing my part in helping to maintain the success coach Saban has brought back to the program. The tradition and history at Alabama is like no other place in the country when it comes to college football and this is a special time to be a part of that."
Palermo is just one of a multitude of coaches who have led the charge for the Volunteers defensive line in the last four years. The position has been headed up by a carousel of coaches, including Thompson (2011), Chuck Smith (2010), Ed Orgeron (2009) and Dan Brooks/Steve Caldwell (2008).
In spite of its 5-7 record this past season, the Vols ranked 27th in total defense, including 69th against the run and 12th versus the pass. They gave up an average of 22.58 points per game.
In 2011, the Blue Raiders tied for 86th in the country in sacks (19) and tied for 48th in tackles for loss (73). The Volunteers were tied for 100th in sacks (16) and 67th in TFL (67).
Third-down conversion percentages can sometimes show how much pressure a defensive line is providing. Vol opponents moved the chains 38.89 percent of the time, while Middle Tennessee saw foes get the first down at a clip of 48.97 percent. That ranks them 57th and 109th, respectively, nationally.
Palermo, having coaching experience at five different Tennessee colleges will likely snag the job of recruiting a talent-rich in-state 2013 recruiting class.