PITTSBURGH—University of Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst announced today the promotion of Matt House to defensive coordinator and the hiring of coaching veteran John Palermo as defensive ends and linebackers coach. Chryst also announced that former Pitt defensive back Hank Poteat (1996-99), who spent a decade as a player in the National Football League, will join the staff as a graduate assistant and work with the cornerbacks.
Matt House promoted to Defensive Coordinator.
House oversaw a secondary last year that helped Pitt boast the nation’s No. 17 defense in fewest yards allowed (330.54 yards/game). The Panthers’ also owned lofty NCAA rankings in pass defense (20th, 194.15 yards/game), pass efficiency defense (21st, 113.12 rating) and interceptions (26th, 15 total).
Individually, free safety Jason Hendricks was named All-Big East after leading the league and ranking sixth nationally in interceptions (0.46 per game). Hendricks’ six total INTs were the most by a Pitt player since 2000. House’s starting cornerback tandem of K’Waun Williams (four interceptions) and Lafayette Pitts (one INT and a team-high nine pass breakups) emerged as one of the Big East’s best in 2012.
All three of those defensive backs – and nine total defensive starters – are back for the Panthers’ inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013.
House, who will narrow his positional focus to the safeties this season, joined Chryst’s staff last year after working with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams (2009-11) and Carolina Panthers (2008). He previously held collegiate coaching posts at Michigan State, North Carolina, Gardner-Webb and Buffalo.
“I was very impressed by Matt’s work last year in the secondary,” Chryst said. “He has been a great fit for our program as a coach, recruiter and teacher of the game. His experiences and work ethic have more than prepared him for this opportunity to be a coordinator.”
Palermo is widely regarded as one of the finest defensive assistants in college football. He is a 38-year coaching veteran whose stops include 15 years at the University of Wisconsin, two seasons with the Washington Redskins and this past season with the University of Tennessee.
Palermo (pronounced pa-lair-mo) was an integral figure in helping Barry Alvarez build Wisconsin into a national power. He was the Badgers’ assistant head coach from 1991-2005 and also oversaw the defensive line (1996-2005) and outside linebackers (1991-95). Palermo coached four first-team All-Americans, four Big Ten Defensive Linemen of the Year, two Big Ten Defensive Players of the Year, and a pair of first-round draft selections in Wendell Bryant (2002) and Erasmus James (2005). In 2004 the entire starting defensive line at Wisconsin was selected in the NFL Draft.
As defensive line coach with the Washington Redskins in 2008 and 2009, Palermo coached Brian Orakpo, who was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie in a dual role as a defensive end and linebacker. The Redskins ranked fourth in the NFL in fewest yards allowed per game in 2008 and 10th in that category in 2009. Washington was sixth in the NFL in scoring defense in 2008.
Palermo’s career has also been highlighted by two seasons at Notre Dame under Lou Holtz (1988-89). During his tenure in South Bend, he coached defensive lineman Chris Zorich, a two-time consensus All-American and the 1990 winner of the prestigious Lombardi Award. In 1988 the Irish claimed the national title with a 12-0 record, including a 34-21 Fiesta Bowl rout of West Virginia.
Palermo is a 1974 graduate of Florida State and was a two-year football letterman for the Seminoles.
“John quite simply is a great football coach,” Chryst said. “I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him again. J.P.’s wealth of experience is going to benefit our entire program, both coaches and players alike.”
Poteat returns to his alma mater where he was a two-time first-team All-Big East cornerback and led Pitt in interceptions in 1998 and 1999. As a junior in ‘98, he led the Big East and ranked fourth nationally with an average of 0.60 INTs per game (six total). Poteat was also a dangerous kickoff return man and still holds Pitt records for kick return yards in a season (764 in 1998) and career (2,010).
Poteat was a third-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2000 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he had a 53-yard punt return for a TD that sparked the Steelers past Washington, 24-3, in the final game ever played in Three Rivers Stadium.
Poteat would play for five NFL teams over 10 seasons and earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the 2004 New England Patriots. He retired from the NFL following the 2009 season and spent the past two years as defensive backs coach at Kentucky Christian University.
A native of Harrisburg, Pa., and graduate of Harrisburg High, Poteat earned his bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Pitt.
“We’re really excited to bring Hank back home to Pitt,” Chryst said. “In addition to his experience as an NFL player, Hank has coached on the college level the past two years. His knowledge of the game and of Pitt is going to be a big asset for us.”
Pitt opens spring drills on March 5. The annual Blue-Gold Spring Game will be played on April 12 at Bethel Park High School. For information on Pitt football season tickets, call (800) 643-PITT (7488) or order online via the Panthers’ official website, PittsburghPanthers.com.
2013 PITT COACHING STAFF
Joe Rudolph, offensive coordinator & tight ends
Matt House, defensive coordinator & safeties
Brooks Bollinger, quarterbacks
Inoke Breckterfield, defensive line
Bobby Engram, wide receivers
Chris Haering, linebackers
Jim Hueber, offensive line
John Palermo, defensive ends & linebackers
Desmond Robinson, running backs
Nate Tice, offensive graduate assistant
Mickey Turner, offensive graduate assistant
Hank Poteat, defensive graduate assistant & cornerbacks
Spencer Whipple, defensive graduate assistant
MATT HOUSE COACHING CAREER IN BRIEF
Carolina Panthers, 2008, special teams assistant & strength and conditioning assistant.
St. Louis Rams, 2009-11, quality control/defense.
Michigan State, 2001-02, graduate assistant/secondary.
North Carolina, 2003-04, defensive assistant.
Gardner-Webb, 2005, defensive line.
University of Buffalo, 2006-07, defensive backs & recruiting coordinator.
Pittsburgh, 2012-present, secondary; 2013 defensive coordinator.
JOHN PALERMO COACHING CAREER IN BRIEF
Washington Redskins, 2008-09, defensive line.
NC State, 1977-78, graduate assistant.
Austin Peay, 1979, defensive line & strength and conditioning.
Memphis State, 1980-82, defensive line.
Appalachian State, 1983, assistant head coach & defensive line.
Minnesota, 1984-87, defensive line.
Notre Dame, 1988-89, defensive line.
Austin Peay, 1990, head coach
Wisconsin, 1991-2005, assistant head coach; 1991-95, outside linebackers; 1996-2005, defensive line.
Miami (Fla.), 2006, defensive line.
Tennessee Tech, 2007, defensive line.
Middle Tennessee, 2010-11, defensive line.
Tennessee, 2012, defensive line.
HANK POTEAT NFL PLAYING CAREER IN BRIEF
2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
2001 Pittsburgh Steelers
2002 Pittsburgh Steelers
2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2004 New England Patriots
2005 New England Patriots
2006 New England Patriots
New York Jets
2007 New York Jets
2008 New York Jets
2009 Cleveland Browns
**Press Release via Pitt Media Relations.**