Troy Aikman Speaks Out About ‘Embarrassment’ of UCLA Playing in Empty Rose Bowl

by Suzanne Halliburton

Count Troy Aikman as one very upset UCLA alum. On the football field, he may be best known as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, but he also was a record-setting player for the Bruins.

So if you’re Troy Aikman, seeing only a smattering of fans at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins home stadium, was like a kick in his gut. The Hall of Famer quote tweeted Ross Dellenger, a Sports Illustrated writer. It all concerned a photo of the Rose Bowl from Saturday for UCLA’s home game against South Alabama.

Troy Aikman wrote: “This is an embarrassment, but we couldn’t fill the Rose Bowl in 1988 when we were the #1 team in the country. Anyone else at UCLA think it’s time for an on-campus 30,000 seat stadium? Of course, if we can’t play better than we did today, it would be half-empty too.”

UCLA is now 3-0 for the season. So on paper, the Bruins are a hot team. However, UCLA has played a super easy schedule for non-conference. The Bruins enjoyed wins over Bowling Green, Alabama State and South Alabama.

And UCLA only beat South Alabama, 32-31. In fact, the Bruins needed to kick a field goal on the last play of the game for the win. Otherwise, South Alabama would’ve been the fourth Sun Belt team to beat a Power 5 squad this season. Remember that part about Troy Aikman saying if UCLA “can’t play better,” well, he was talking about watching a Pac 12 team nearly going down in flames.

UCLA calls the Rose Bowl “the most famous college football stadium.” Basically, that’s because of the post-season Rose Bowl. The Bruins started playing their games at the stadium back in 1982. The stadium, which is in Pasadena, is about 12 miles from the UCLA campus. But with the hideous LA traffic, the trip can take a lot longer. Most big-time programs play their games at a stadium either on campus or very close by.

Troy Aikman was an All-American QB at UCLA. (Richard Mackson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Troy Aikman started his college career at Oklahoma. In fact, he became the first freshman since World War II to start at quarterback for the Sooners. But he transferred to UCLA because OU’s offense didn’t really emphasize the pass. With the Bruins, Aikman earned Pac 10 Player of the Year honors as a junior. UCLA finished 10-2 and capped it with a victory over Florida in the Aloha Bowl. Aikman’s senior season he won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback. UCLA won the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Months later, the Cowboys selected Aikman with the top pick of the NFL draft.

Troy Aikman retired in 2001. Now, he’s one of the voices of the NFL. He and partner Joe Buck moved to ESPN for Monday Football. They called their first game this past Monday for ESPN.