Every year during the week leading up to the oldest bowl game of them all, the Rose Bowl queen and her court are a familiar sight.
But outside the Pasadena area, few people know much at all about these women.
This year, one of the seven court princesses is a nationally known prep track star--Inger Miller of Pasadena Muir High.
For the last two years, Miller has been regarded as one of the best sprinters in the nation, with personal bests of 11.46 seconds (wind-aided) in the 100 meters and 23.62 in the 200. Last season she led the Mustangs to a state championship.
Her father, Dr. Lennox Miller, was a sprint star at USC and won Olympic silver and bronze medals in the 100 meters in 1968 and 1972 for Jamaica.
Miller’s selection as a Rose Bowl princess came as a surprise to her.
“I never expected to be a princess,” Miller said. “It is something that every girl in Pasadena does when she is a senior in high school. So, I just did it, and if I didn’t make it, it was not a big deal.”
Miller advanced through the four tryout stages.
“There were 763 girls who tried out, with the requirements being that they were between 17 and 21 years old and a full-time student in the Pasadena area,” Miller said. “The judges only knew you as a number until the final decision.”
After Miller found out she was one of the final eight contestants, including the queen, her life hasn’t been the same.
Calling her life hectic in the last three months would be an understatement. Miller has had to make adjustments in almost every aspect of her life.
There has been a solid schedule of appearances at Rotary clubs, hospitals and a hefty share of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. “By the time the game comes, we will have made 100 appearances,” Miller said. “They have tournament directors who make sure we make every appearance. They are like having nine new dads.”
Because of her busy schedule, Miller has had to juggle her classes. And her track career is basically on hold, as she has made it to few Mustang practices this semester.
“Her schedule is just horrendous,” Muir Coach Jim Brownfield said. “She is scheduled to run in the Sunkist meet Jan. 19, but I haven’t seen her much, so she might not run at all.”
One of Miller’s teammates at Muir, distance runner Kandace Watson, is also on the Rose Bowl queen’s court.
“It is so great for the school to have both of us make it,” said Miller, who said she took a crash course on the history of the Rose Bowl. “Especially when so many people tried out. The whole thing has been a highlight,” she said. “Every day has been like Christmas and the biggest thing is that I’ll be a princess forever.”
Michigan should win its second consecutive Rose Bowl title Monday, according to the media covering the game.
Of the 47 writers and sportscasters who took part in the voting, 24 picked the Wolverines, 23 picked the Trojans. The predictions were made at the 34th annual Beef Bowl earlier in the week.
Neil Cohen, a spokesman for Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurant that sponsored the dinner, said 600 pounds of beef and 500 pounds of potatoes were consumed by the two teams.
A lot of attention was given to UCLA’s offensive collapse this season with a lot of blame going to the Bruins’ switch in offensive coordinators and quarterbacks.
USC also lost its quarterback, with the graduation of Rodney Peete, and its offensive coordinator, when Chuck Stobart accepted the head coaching position at Memphis State last summer.
But USC’s offense did not suffer from its transition to redshirt freshman quarterback Todd Marinovich and its committee of coaches who replaced Stobart, which included Coach Larry Smith.
The Trojans featured a balance attack, averaging 223.4 yards rushing and 233.8 yards passing per game. USC’s total of 457.2 led the Pacific 10 this season and was eighth nationally.
“In the first game (USC’s loss to Illinois), we had some problems getting used to new play-calling, but after that we did not have any problems,” USC receiver John Jackson said. “We just had to go back to a team that attacked again.”
Marc Spencer and Scott Smykowski, reserve Michigan inside linebackers, were sent home Friday for curfew violations.