In need of a jolt, Cards turn to Rossomando — and a talented roster
Lamar has experienced flashes of success since reinstating the varsity sport in 2010. The Cardinals finished 8-4 in 2014 for the program’s first season with a winning record since 1979. They even went to the FCS playoffs in 2018 for their first postseason appearance since the 1964 Pecan Bowl.
The last few seasons, however, haven’t given the Cardinals’ fanbase much to cheer about. They’ve combined for only five wins since 2020, which led to the hiring of new head coach Peter Rossomando.
He understands the tension around town.
“It’s a very frustrated culture around the community and the university,” Rossomando said. “Lamar made a substantial investment in the football program and facility when they brought football back, and they want a little more bang for their money.”
The only way to do that is by winning, and that’s not possible without victories on the recruiting trail.
“You have to recruit the right players for your program for the type of culture you’re trying to create,” Rossomando said. “Culture isn’t what you write on the wall. I see guys put out beautiful tweets and have nice posters on the walls of their facilities, but it’s not something that is the fabric of who they are.”
Rossomando is a man that puts his words into action.
“There’s going to be a standard, and we’re going to hold them to that standard,” he said. “We’re going to be relentless about the standard, and they know their head coach is going to be involved in everything they do. I’m around doing class checks. I’m in the cafeteria. They see me in the weight room and on the field with the strength and conditioning staff. I’m going to be around and ingrained in every piece of this program.”
The change in culture at Lamar isn’t only about discipline. It also involves getting the university, faculty, student body, and community reinvested. Rossomando believes building relationships is the key to reigniting the fanbase.
“I told our players something I learned while working for Will Healy at Charlotte. The No. 1 thing they have to do is make connections,” Rossomando said. “Introduce yourself to one of your classmates or just one person every day. Tell them your name and that you’re a football player. Let them know you wanted to meet them and hope to see them at some games.”
If the players didn’t think their coach was serious about building relationships around campus, they definitely got the memo when he handed them a script to introduce themselves to others.
“I gave them a script to use to introduce themselves to their professors because we need everyone at the university, from the student body to the administration, to buy into and become engaged with the football program,” Rossomando said. “We have to show progress on the field, in the classroom, and how we conduct ourselves socially. We have to give them a reason to come out and watch a game. Then we have to produce some hope that the program is turning the corner.”
Perception might not be reality, but there’s a sense from those on the outside that Lamar’s issues are in the administration. Rossomando doesn’t believe that to be true.
“It started with our president, Dr. Jaime Taylor,” Rossomando said. “He understands that athletics are the front porch of the university. Lamar has been beating itself for the last six or seven years. No one has been working together to get this thing moving in the right direction. Dr. Taylor hired Jeff O’Malley to be the athletic director, and he’s incredible. He understands what it takes to run a department. He supports his coaches and demands excellence in everything we do.”
On the field, Rossomando believes his roster is as talented as every roster in the Southland Conference. If the Cardinals can limit turnovers, pre-snap penalties, and personnel mistakes then Rossomando is confident the wins will follow.
“Fixing those things will allow us to be competitive in every game, and that’s where we want to be,” Rossomando said. “We want to be competitive and have a chance to win in the end, and we want to give our fans something to be excited about not only this year but in the future.”
It’s baffling how Lamar hasn’t maintained a successful football program. The Cardinals have some of the best facilities and recruiting regions among the FCS schools in Texas. It feels like Lamar finally has the right people in place to compete in the Southland Conference.
But Lamar fans have felt this before and have understandably become apathetic until they see positive results in the win column. I agree that Lamar has a roster that can compete with every team in the Southland. Discipline was an issue last year, with the Cardinals finishing toward the bottom of the conference in most penalty categories.
Maybe this is the year that Lamar takes a significant step toward being a player in the Southland. Undoubtedly, wins are needed before the fanbase starts believing again.
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