Troy Aikman UCLA

While they were given an upset scare, the UCLA Bruins prevailed 32-31 over South Alabama with a last-second field goal from Nicholas Barr-Mira. Not many people saw the dramatic win in person, though. That irked one of the greatest players in UCLA history, Troy Aikman.

During the game, Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger shared a photo that was taken and posted to Twitter by Jonathan Adams. The photo showed a sparse crowd, with several empty rows of seats with Dellinger’s caption “This is a pic from the Rose Bowl today from @JonathanAdams…Woof.”

Aikman did not like what he saw and made his frustrations known.

This is not the first time this season we’ve seen this with UCLA. The season-opening game against Bowling Green failed to draw even 30,000 fans and was a record low for UCLA at the Rose Bowl. One week later, the Bruins defeated Alabama State and the attendance was better, but not by a significant margin.

With those two games fresh on everyone’s mind, Aikman’s comments

The first two games — particularly the opener — were played during a massive heat wave. Given how little protection from the sun the Rose Bowl has to offer, the poor attendance was inevitable. In this case, that doesn’t apply.

That said, there were other reasons to potentially explain the lack of attendance. One, Bowling Green, Alabama State, and South Alabama aren’t exactly known for massive fanbases, particularly for road games. They also don’t attract casual fans. Furthermore, school is not even in session at UCLA yet.

Westwood and Pasadena are also nearly 30 miles apart and with Los Angeles traffic, that’s potentially a drive that will take the better part of an hour — if not more.

The general lack of success in recent years certainly doesn’t help matters. That said, UCLA is coming off of an 8-4 season. Furthermore, as Aikman pointed out, the attendance wasn’t great during his playing days, even when the Bruins were competing for a national championship.

Aikman is onto something with the idea of a smaller stadium. That said, 30,000 may be on the low side. Many Pac-12 teams play in smaller venues with more intimate settings. That may be a harder sell in the Big Ten, though, which has the NCAA’s three biggest football stadiums by capacity (Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State).

But part of the problem with these crowds is that playing at the massive Rose Bowl, they look even smaller. A crowd of 30,000 looks more like 3,000. Even if a 30,000-seat stadium won’t work, these sparse crowds make it hard to justify UCLA continuing to play games at the Rose Bowl, with more seats empty than occupied.

[Tory Aikman, Ross Dellenger, Photo Credit: Jonathan Adams]

About Michael Dixon

Michael is a writer and editor for The Comeback Media. Fan of most sports, nerd when it comes to sports history. Bay Area based for now. Likely leaving sometime early in 2023.

Other loves include good tacos, pizza and obscure Seinfeld quotes.

Feel free to voice your agreements or disagreements. If you do so respectfully, Michael will gladly respond in kind.

Twitter: @mfdixon1985
Email: mdixon@thecomeback.com