When senior defensive back Rob Mago found out he had been named one of the captains of the 2012 Augustana football team, his first action was to contact his family.
After all, Mago has a close relationship with his three brothers, who all are within six years of each other in age. Plus, Augustana football is special to the Mago family, with Rob being the second of his family to captain the Vikings, following his brother John.
“That would have been something he’d have hung over my head if I hadn’t got that title,” Rob Mago said with a smile. “In all seriousness, it’s an honor, and it’s an honor to be titled a captain for these guys and be leading them every game.”
In his first two games as one of Augie’s two captains, he’s worn the honor well, tying for second on the team in tackles with 17.
It’s hardly a surprise to coach Rob Cushman, who had an idea of the type of person and player he was getting when Mago joined his brother on the Vikings three years ago.
“We knew Rob had some bloodlines, and he’s developed,” Cushman said. “I think he’s gotten better and better, and we have him in a position where he can excel. We probably put him in some bad situations (before) because we were thin when he was younger, but now we have him in a better spot.”
Cushman refuses to compare Rob Mago to John, but Rob has no problem comparing himself to his three siblings. He describes himself and his brothers as jokesters with short tempers, leading to many fights while they were growing up.
Of the four, only eldest brother Michael did not play football or attend Augie, instead getting his business degree from the University of Illinois. Rob was the second to play football for the Vikings and was joined this fall by youngest brother Sam, a lineman.
“Co-existing with them is second nature for me,” Rob said. “We’re a close-knit family, and it’s very neat to say I’ve gone to school and played with two of my brothers in college. It’s been a great experience, and I’m glad it happened.”
The family connection at Augie for the Magos, from Cary, Ill., almost didn’t happen. Prior to coming to Augustana, John and Rob regularly feuded with each other, leading Rob to consider other schools, some of them members of the CCIW. That didn’t last.
“(John) didn’t like that I was even talking to them in the first place, and neither did my mom,” Mago said. “I visited a few schools, but there was something about Augustana and a comfort level I felt.”
The comfort level and family won out, and Mago’s decision did wonders for his relationship with John. Once they became teammates, the feuds subsided, as John helped Rob make the adjustment and become a valued team member.
“We were able to grow separately, but at the same time grow together,” John said. “He became a brother in more than one way, which I don’t think happened in high school.”
Rob is now one of the defense’s best leaders, helping Augie’s younger players develop.
“On the field, he’s definitely the guy I’ve looked to if I don’t know something,” Augie sophomore defensive back Bo Goshorn said. “I feel like every single position, he knows what to do. He’s got a mind for football.”
Mago’s challenge is using that mind to get the Vikings back to the level of play that the program’s past suggests. It hurt when the Vikings were 2-8 last season, and with Augie already 0-2 going into this week’s game against Loras, Mago knows he doesn’t have much time left to get the Vikings back to being a power.
“Building a program back to its glory, I felt was more honorable than going to, say, North Central and continually winning and not changing the beat,” Mago said. “Thus far, I haven’t done my fair share of changing the beat around here, but hopefully, we’ll take a step forward this week.”