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Aikman Comes Home

Members of UCLA's Class of 2009 will be a lucky bunch. They will get an opportunity to walk with a Bruin legend:

More than 20 years after throwing his last pass for the Bruins, Aikman is fulfilling a promise he made to his mother by graduating from UCLA after recently completing course work to earn his bachelor's degree in sociology.

"It always bugged me that I spent 4 1/2 years in college and had nothing to show for it, first and foremost," said Aikman, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the Dallas Cowboys. "Second, from time to time, people would ask if I got my degree, and I hated not being able to say that I did.

"Third, I promised my mom I would do it, and I never liked the thought that I had not fulfilled that promise."

Aikman will also be introduced during the half time of Saturday's basketball game v. Notre Dame:

Aikman will be introduced at halftime of Saturday's basketball game against Notre Dame as the school recognizes him for being inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame in December. It will be a rare appearance for Aikman at UCLA, although he remains heavily involved with the school.

Since the return of CRN Aikman has gotten more invested in our football program:

He helps with fund-raising, offered input to athletic director Dan Guerrero during the football coaching search in 2007 and remains connected with his former coaches and teammates. He even endowed a scholarship.

He told Dohn how much he was indebted to UCLA:

"I'm indebted to UCLA," Aikman said. "I transferred in, and I feel like they took a chance on a guy who wasn't one of their own, yet always treated me as though I was. I haven't been able to have physical presence at the university because of my broadcasting and my NFL career. I've only made it to a couple of games, a couple of bowl games, and that's disappointing to me, that I haven't been able to go to more games."

And how psyched he was about our signing day:

"From what I understand, someone ranked their recruiting class (in the top 10) in the nation," Aikman said of's No. 4 ranking. "That's encouraging. That's encouraging for all the UCLA faithful. It's a tough job with what's happening across town.
Pete Carroll's done a terrific job, but I know there are certain hurdles that have to be overcome at UCLA because of entrance requirements. I was a part of some pretty special teams. Even though we failed to beat 'SC while I was playing, we had some awfully good players.
"I just feel, and I know Rick feels the same way, there's no reason why UCLA shouldn't be one of the top 10, top 15 football programs in the country, year in and year out. I know that's what they're striving for."

Aikman may not be my favorite UCLA QB of all time but he is the reason I started following UCLA athletics in the late 80s (and I still have nightmares re. Eric Affholter). I don't think it's a coincidence that we are seeing more stories like this about UCLA football and more alums coming out of the woodwork to talk up our football program. It is happening because CRN has move the ball in terms of restoring pride in our football tradition. The tradition was always there but frankly was being shortchanged in a culture of mediocrity that persited for almost a decade before CRN's arrival in Westwood.

Those days are over. As Neuheisel continues to make progress in taking back UCLA football to where it belongs we will see more and more legends like Aikman coming home.