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Penn State Hires WPIAL Coaching Great Bob Palko to Staff

Penn State coach James Franklin has added one of the greatest coaches in western Pennsylvania high school football history to his staff.

Dorin Dickerson of Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan Morning Show first reported Wednesday night that Bob Palko, winner of nine district titles and two state crowns, will be joining Penn State’s coaching staff.

Blue-White Illustrated reported that Palko’s title will be director of high school relations.

Dickerson, an all-American tight end at Pitt in 2009 who spent six seasons in the NFL, played for Palko at West Allegheny and was one of the greatest talents Palko’s coached over a head coaching career that started in 1995. Palko’s son, Tyler, helped his dad and the program to three straight WPIAL titles and three state championship game appearances between 1999-2001, culminating in a 2001 state title game win.

West Allegheny— where Palko was a quarterback in the 1970s— is where Palko spent most of his coaching career. He was there from 1995-2018, and in that time, made West A one of the WPIAL’s strongest programs. It took Palko just three seasons to make his alma mater a champion. West Allegheny won the district title in 1997 and won three more over the next four seasons. Palko ended his time at West Allegheny after the 2018 seasons with eight district championships and a state title, only missing the playoffs three times over 24 years.

From there, Palko moved on to Mt. Lebanon. Once again, magic happened in Year 3. He led Lebo to a WPIAL and state championship in 2021. Palko coached at Lebo through the 2022 season before resigning in January, stepping back due to “personal health issues,” he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, while clarifying that he wasn’t retiring from coaching.

Palko is the second western Pennsylvania coaching great to join Penn State’s staff. Associate head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith made a name for himself in coaching at Gateway High School and has since become one of the most important members of Franklin’s staff.

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