HOTARD: Miles knows how to handle unexpected

Les Miles has won 62 games at LSU in six seasons. He has won one BCS championship game and is 5-1 in bowl games.

But maybe the most remarkable thing about Miles is how well he has managed his teams with distractions swirling and his back against the wall.

Forget the coach’s remarkable 16 wins - in 17 tries - when coming off a loss. That’s only part of it.

As good as Miles has been about getting his Tigers to leave the last game behind, he has been even better about making sure they leave whatever off-field chaos may arise at the most inopportune times.

Through hurricanes, return-to-Michigan speculation and an assortment of other peripheral story lines, Miles has been his best when you least expect it.

Now there’s this.

Common logic says LSU will have too much to overcome when the Tigers face third-ranked Oregon to open Year 7 of the Miles era.

Tugging at the Tigers will be the absence of wide receiver Russell Shepard - who was ruled ineligible Thursday by LSU for violating NCAA rules - and the ongoing legal status of quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was suspended indefinitely Friday after being arrested for his alleged role in an Aug. 19 bar fight.

It’s been the wildest of fall camps, beginning with assistant Steve Kragthorpe’s announcement Aug. 4 that he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Thank goodness for LSU, the Tigers have the man in white hat.

It all started in the first game he coached.

Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005, wiping out LSU’s season opener against North Texas and forcing a scheduling shuffle that sent the Tigers to Arizona State for Miles’ debut. With the campus serving as a recovery center for storm victims, the Tigers rallied for a 35-31 win over the No. 15 Sun Devils, giving fans back home a much-needed diversion.

Hurricane Rita washed ashore weeks later, but after a loss at home to Tennessee, LSU reeled off nine straight wins (in nine weeks) to reach the Southeastern Conference title game.

Only better teams have beaten Miles in his six seasons. Off-field news has not.

Miles led LSU to victory, minus senior quarterback Matt Flynn, in the 2007 SEC title game hours after straightening out a report by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit that identified him as Michigan’s next coach. He led LSU to a rout of Texas A&M in last year’s Cotton Bowl two days after the Michigan job came open again - and Miles, for the second time in four years, had his name attached to the position.

How about beating Florida in the Swamp last fall on a fake field goal? One week after time-management issues against Tennessee made Miles and his staff the subject of an ESPN College Gameday skit?

We’ll see how this LSU team deals with the Texas-sized distractions fall camp provided.

History says Miles will steady the storm.