Les Miles hit the beach. For a self-described workaholic, it was an offseason full of renewed perspective and even optimism. So Miles coped with his poorest season in four seasons as head coach at LSU — eight victories and a bowl game triumph counting as his “worst” — the only way he knew how.

“The Miles family played youth sports and swam, had the opportunity to get our feet in some sand,” he said. “I reacquainted myself with my children. I find I have four children, two of them that call me ‘dad,’ and two of them that call me ‘daddy.’ I enjoy that.”

LSU is all about great expectations, and the Tigers fell short last season by their own admission. But to listen to Miles talk about those ups-and-downs, they only helped to motivate his team over the offseason. LSU, forecast to finish second in the daunting SEC West, has big plans this fall.

“I think there’s a level of acceptable achievement at our school,” Miles said. “I think our guys understand it. I think championships is how we’re measured. … I had somebody ask me, ‘Is that something you expect?’ You never expect to finish second, not at LSU.”

Make no mistake, last season was far from disastrous. But by the relative standards set by LSU’s recent string of dominance, which includes a national championship in 2007 and at least 11 wins in each of Miles’ first three seasons, it was a disappointment. The Tigers closed out an 8-5 season with three straight conference losses, to Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas, before rebounding with a 38-3 victory over Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A-Bowl.

Memphis Commercial Appeal