But IU senior defensive end Jammie Kirlew said IU co-defensive coordinators Brian George and Joe Palcic have never overstepped each other while preparing for an opponent.
“Thinking about it, that probably happens a lot,” Kirlew said. “But I have just never seen it happen. They work perfectly with each other. You would think those guys are brothers.”
This connection between the two coaches began at Miami University (Ohio) in 1999. At the time, George was a graduate assistant and Palcic was the linebacker coach for the RedHawks. After serving in many different jobs on staff, George and Palcic were named co-defensive coordinators for Miami in 2004.
When then-Miami coach Terry Hoeppner took the position at IU one year later, his young defensive coordinators came with him.
“We have never been a coordinator without each other,” Palcic said. “It’s really all we know.”
But though they may share the same job title, the specific responsibilities to the team are much different.
Palcic is in charge of the secondary unit – linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties – and George leads the defensive line. This allows the coaches to focus on their area of expertise and never get in the way of each other in practice.
During games, Palcic sits in the press box scanning the field while George stands on the sideline. Palcic is in charge of selecting the play and relaying it to George through a headset, who then tells the players. But if George strongly disagrees with the decision, he has the ability to change it.
“We have disagreements, but every staff has that,” Palcic said. “If one of us feels strongly enough to want to veto it, we go ahead and veto it. He’ll change it right there and that’s what we go with. We never second-guess what we call.”
George said the overall game plan is decided well in advance from the opening whistle. With each circumstance covered, all that is left is execution on the field. Because of this, both coordinators have a good idea of where the other stands.
“As we go through practice each week, we work all the different situations and we talk about what we want to call at different points,” George said. “At times, I know what he is going to say and I know it goes the other way as well. We have been doing it for long enough together that there is a pretty good synergy of being on the same page.”
That chemistry off the field has translated to a successful season in 2009.
In the Big Ten, the Hoosiers are in the top six teams for sacks, tackles for loss and turnovers gained. Kirlew leads the conference in forced fumbles and is third in sacks. IU senior linebacker Matt Mayberry is in the top 10 for total tackles.
George said he and Palcic’s close friendship makes the job more enjoyable.
“We both have the type of personality where we really don’t care who gets the credit,” George said. “Over the years we have both been able to compromise on things, and understand that our livelihood depends on us being able to work as a unit, just like the team. From that standpoint, it has worked very well.”
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