Galaga. A fixed shooter arcade game. Published in North America in 1981 and "one of the most successful games of the Golden Age of Video Arcade Games." This is what Gus Malzahn was playing in some precious spare time last night. Which makes sense. That's what 16-year-olds like Malzahn did in 1981. They played Galaga. They also watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. But they mostly played Galaga.
What video games are the other coaches playing? Sure, they probably all play Words with
Recruits Friends and Rhett Lashlee probably plays Lego Marvel Super Heroes with his sons, but what games were they each playing when they were 16 years old? And how did it shape the football coach they would become?
J. B. Grimes - The Oregon Trail
Auburn's offensive line coach wasn't really into video games. Mostly because they basically didn't exist in 1971. The predecessor to The Oregon Trail was created that year, but it was really just for an 8th grade history class. High School Grimes didn't have time for middle school games. The only problem is now, almost 45 years later, people joke about him going on the real Oregon Trail. It's not funny, guys. Knock it off.
Lance Thompson - Pac-Man
Lance Thompson is probably a fine linebackers coach, but what he's known for is recruiting. He scoops up commitments and NLI's like Pac-Man scoops up those dots.
But the way you really know Thompson had Pac-Man Fever as a teenager is the way Nick Saban and the Alabama Nation treated him when he left their program for Auburn's. "Lance Thompson is great, he's such a good coach, our linebackers are the best, we're so glad he's on our side, he's just... Oh, he left for Auburn? We didn't want him anyway." Sounds a lot like the red ghost, Blinky, chasing and then retreating from Pac-Man.
Scott Fountain - Q*bert
If you've never played this game, let's just say it's special. Hey, our Special Teams coach is a fan. It's a board game and/or a platformer where you must change all the tiles to single color while being chased by giant snakes and who know what else. Fountain's knack for escaping danger at the last moment to win the game...
...came in quite handy in 2013.
Rodney Garner - Joust
Garner has always liked to watch collisions. At Auburn, he coaches defensive lineman to crash into their offensive counterparts, but as a teenager, he used knights on ostriches. The only catch is that the football mantra of "low man wins" is completely wrong in the Joust Universe.
Tim Horton - Spy Hunter
Horton has had quite a string of running backs at Auburn. First was Tre Mason, who only broke Bo Jackson's season rushing record and finished 2013 as a Heisman finalist. But when he left for the NFL, some worried that the RB position would crash and burn. Nope. The big, red recruiting truck just pulled up and dropped off another stud back. Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for over 1600 yards in 2014.
Once again, Horton will be looking for a replacement back, and, once again, the big, red recruiting truck has dropped off several speedy options, all shiny and brand new.
Will Muschamp - Street Fighter
Auburn's once and future Defensive Coordinator has a reputation for having a temper and not being afraid to show it. As a kid, he found fighting games as a way to express that anger. Street Fighter came out when he was 16, but Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat had a bit more influence on him. You can't tell me that smashing barrels for fun...
...didn't have a hand in his penchant for smashing whiteboards for fun.
And I've always thought this...
was just a celebratory version of Liu Kang's bicycle kick.
Dameyune Craig - Super Mario Bros. 3
As a quarterback for Auburn, Craig made things happen on the ground and through the air before dual-threat quarterbacks were cool. But just a few years earlier, he was making Mario run, jump and fly with his SMB3 speed runs, completing each level as fast as possible.
Travaris Robinson - GoldenEye 007
Like Muschamp, T-Rob was also drawn to violent video games. But when he was 16, first person shooters were the thing and GoldenEye was the best. He got so good at it that he didn't need any of the arsenal of guns in the game to actual play. He could dominate with just his virtual hand, AKA slappers only.
I only hope undoes the soft coverage we've seen at Auburn recently and teaches the cornerbacks to slap at opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage to disrupt their routes.
Ryan Russell - The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
The first 3D Zelda title was released when Auburn's Strength Coach was a teenager. The protagonist of the game, Link, starts as a young boy who can barely lift a chicken, but over the course of the game, he grows into a young man that can lift, oh I don't know, GIANT GRANITE PILLARS!!!
Russell aims to provide that same transformation to each incoming freshman that comes into his program. Ring that bell, Link!
Rhett Lashlee - NCAA Football 2000
Auburn's Offensive Coordinator only played football games on his PlayStation. NCAA 2000, Madden 2000, NCAA 2001, Madden 2001, and so on. Yep, football all the time. What a nerd.