NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The biggest selling point for Pete Rossomando wasn’t his preferred taste in music when he decided to join Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason’s team – but it was a selling point nonetheless.
“I love Nashville,” Rossomando said. “It’s a great city and if you’re a country music fan – like I am – this is a great place to be.”
Officially hired by Vanderbilt in January, Rossomando came to West End to coach Vandy’s offensive line after one season at Rutgers. Before that he served as head coach at Central Connecticut State from 2014-18.
A friend of new Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Todd Fitch told Rossomando about what to expect if he joined Mason’s staff. The former Boston University standout knew it was a move he couldn’t pass up despite numerous offers from other major college football programs.
“When I got here and met (Mason) and had a chance to hear his vision I really liked it and thought him and I were pretty close philosophically as far as the way we did things. I wanted to learn something new from somebody,” Rossomando said. “I think the culture here is really good. We have a great locker room and we have a great group of kids.
“We may be behind the 8-ball a little bit in the SEC because of our academic restrictions, but we certainly don’t use that as a crutch. I think coach Mason celebrates it. I think we mold better people because of it. I’m really enjoying my time here. I really love it.”
Rossomando was able to work with his offensive linemen at the start of the 2020 winter semester on campus and got through four spring practices before the global pandemic of COVID-19 canceled all remaining team workouts. That was still enough time for the New York native to recognize that the Commodores possess good size, tremendous drive and, above all else, are good human beings.
Vanderbilt redshirt junior center Grant Miller said he’s excited to get back on the field with his new position coach.
“From the talks that we’ve had, and just being out with him the four practices, I think he really just pushes everyone to do better,” he said. “He’s a New York guy, he’s very straightforward with you, you can tell he’s an honest guy – somebody that’s really going to shoot it straight and a guy who is going to push you to get better and somebody that you want to play for.”
Rossomando has seen first hand what winning football looks like – he played in the Division II playoffs, was an assistant coach during a run to the Division II national title game and, as a head coach, was the Division II National Coach of the Year in 2012 while at New Haven. He has also seen what a good offensive line looks like and that sometimes outside perception isn’t quite reality.
A much-maligned offensive front at LSU in 2018 turned into national champions in 2019 and four of that team’s five starters up front get drafted, Rossomando noted. He knows that group relied on chemistry to help elevate their game – and his own group will have to do the same.
“I think most of these guys understand I’m there to help them,” Rossomando said. “It’s not me versus you, it’s me and you. I think that was welcomed by those guys. We have a good relationship so far, but we haven’t hit a lot of adversity yet. It’s all peaches and cream right now so we’ll see how it develops over time.
“We got to develop a little bit more leadership in the group. I think we’re lacking in that right now, but we have good qualities of the guys in the room, we just got to bring it out.”