Palermo: A great ride in Madison

Defensive line coach proud of UW's accomplishments in 15 seasons, looking for more

Earlier this week, John Palermo said his 15th season as an assistant football coach at the University of Wisconsin will be his last. His time with the Badgers has been a great ride, he said, but now is not the time for reflection.

"Where else in the world can you do what you want to do for 15 years in one place and be able to have your family grow up and meet people, have great relationships," Palermo said Tuesday. "I mean it's been great. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about Wisconsin, about this program, about the people I've been able to work with. It's just been a hell of a ride."

Palermo came to Wisconsin one season after Alvarez. He was the Badgers' outside linebackers coach from 1991-94 before beginning to coach the defensive line in '95. He is also UW's assistant head coach. During Palermo's tenure, the longest of any current assistant coach, the program has a 115-63-4 record, and has won three Rose Bowls. He has been a part of all but one of Alvarez's career victories at UW.

"I don't think it's time for reflection yet because we still have some work to do," Palermo said. "Nothing would make me happier than going out and beating Hawaii and being able to go to another good bowl game."

Wisconsin (8-3 overall, 5-3 Big Ten) wraps up its regular season Nov. 25 at Hawaii.

"Let me say this to you: If we can win that ninth game here coming up, to go back-to-back nine-win seasons, I think it tells you that Barry and the staff has left this program in pretty good shape," Palermo said.

Palermo has been a college coach since 1977. He has spent time at six universities and was on the staff of the 1988 Notre Dame national championship team. He also spent the 1990 season as a head coach at Austin Peay.

Through all his experiences, where does Wisconsin rank?

"I think it's by far been the best," Palermo said. "When you have a 15-year run and you're able to go to three Rose Bowls and win them and go to a bunch of bowl games. Coaching's still success.

"And I guess I'm dumb enough to think that I had a lot to do with the success that we've had here."

This season Palermo has had to coach through a wave of injuries: seven of his top 10 defensive linemen have missed time due to injury. Yet for the most part the defensive line has played well.

Has this been Palermo's best coaching effort?

"I think every year is my best coaching effort," Palermo said. "I haven't changed in 32 years. I do the same thing every year that I've done every other year in coaching. The kids are ones that make the difference…

"You can put them in the right position but sooner or later they got to turn the damn motor on (and) do it themselves. Coaching is getting them in the right place and getting that first step. After that they got to play."

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