SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -Troy Aikman goes into the College Football Hall of Fame with a feeling his school days weren't complete.
It has nothing to do with the fact he didn't earn a degree before he was the first player selected in the 1989 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He filled that void last month when he earned his sociology degree from UCLA. The incomplete feeling comes from losing the two regular-season finales against USC his junior and senior years, costing the Bruins berths in the Rose Bowl both times.
``The one I regret I have on any level is that I didn't lead a team to the Rose Bowl,'' the three-time Super Bowl champion said. ``I think a lot of times in the NFL a quarterback is measured by whether or not you lead a team to a championship. For me at UCLA, it was whether or not you led your team to the Rose Bowl. I failed to do that.''
former Ohio State coach John Cooper.
Aikman, now a Fox Sports analyst, accomplished a lot during his college career, leading the Bruins to back-to-back 10-2 seasons. Many people don't remember, though, that he helped Oklahoma win a national championship in 1985.
``Nor should they,'' Aikman quips.
Aikman signed to play with his home-state school after graduating from Henryetta High School in 1984. The strong-armed quarterback is still asked by people who know he played for the Sooners the same question over and over: ``Why did you go to Oklahoma?''
The Sooners had switched from the wishbone to the I-formation in 1982 because it better fit the style of freshman tailback Marcus Dupree. Aikman thought he was being brought in to add a more potent passing dimension.
Aikman ended up working out of a modified wishbone and never felt comfortable. In his first start as a freshman when the starter was injured, the 17-year-old Aikman went 2-of-14 passing for 8 eight yards with three interceptions as the second-ranked Sooners lost 28-11 to a Kansas team that entered the game with a 2-5 record.
Aikman won the starting job for the Sooners in 1985, but it never felt right.
``I was never real happy with the football side of it,'' he said.
and a touchdown midway through the second quarter against Miami, when he broke his ankle in the Sooners' only loss that season.
``After he broke his leg we didn't have anybody else who could throw, so we went back to a true 'bone,'' said Jim Donnan, the offensive coordinator for that team who went on to coach Marshall and Georgia and also is being enshrined on Saturday.
When freshman Jamelle Holieway led the Sooners to eight straight wins, capped with a 25-10 victory over No. 1 Penn State in the Orange Bowl, Aikman knew the wishbone would stay at Oklahoma and he would leave.
``It was the best thing for him to transfer,'' Donnan said.
The experience shook Aikman's confidence, but he still believed he could be a starter on a good college team. And Aikman flourished at UCLA. By the end of the first season, there was speculation about whether he'd leave early and be a top draft pick. He opted to stay and went into his senior year as the Heisman favorite.
He had a standout senior year, completing 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,771 yards, but Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders had a better season and won the Heisman.
Missing out on the Heisman doesn't bother Aikman. Missing out on the Rose Bowl does.
``My college career, in my opinion, is not quite complete,'' he said.
Aikman takes solace, though, in the fact he's being inducted into the hall with former Dallas teammate Jay Novacek, a former Wyoming tight end.
``Because he's also someone I think is worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,'' Aikman said. ``He's a very understated player. For me to have a chance to go in with him into the College Football Hall of Fame is about as meaningful as anything that could have happened.''
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