Les Miles does not know how to speak Spanish, but that didn’t stop him from ordering food at the sidewalk cafes in Havana, Cuba.
“There was very little ability for me to communicate – other than hunger,” the LSU coach said Tuesday. “I can very comfortably order from a menu.”
Miles spent five days in Cuba last week, eating fresh seafood and pork from those cafes, renting a house all by himself and experiencing a culture he’s heard about his entire life.
Miles landed in Havana on Sunday about an hour before Air Force One touched down. His trip coincided with President Barack Obama’s week in the island nation, as the two country’s reunite after a decades-long feud.
Miles had different reasons for going.
He distributed soccer balls to school children and got to witness a Cuban culture that he’d often heard his longtime friend speak about. Miles’ friend – he declined to reveal his name – is native Cuban. He fled the country with his family more than 50 years ago.
The Miles family often visited this friend’s home in Miami, Florida, on vacations and spring break trips. Miles finally got to see what his friend always talked about.
“I really enjoyed it,” the coach said following Tuesday’s spring football practice.
Miles stood on the first base line for the Cuban National Team’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays last Tuesday, soaking in an electric environment that included Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro.
“I didn’t blend into the crowd,” a smirking Miles said. “I felt like no one knew who I was. They may have comfortably said, ‘I betcha he’s American.’”
Gilmore in car accident
LSU reserve defensive lineman Greg Gilmore was involved in an automobile wreck Monday morning in Baton Rouge but was not injured, officials said.
No one was hurt and no citations were issued in the three-vehicle collision on Nicholson Drive at Aster Street about 11:15 a.m., said Baton Rouge Police spokesman Cpl. Don Coppola. Gilmore was not at fault.
Gilmore, a reserve defensive lineman, practiced Tuesday. Miles said one other LSU football player was involved in a car accident over spring break and missed practice Tuesday with minor injuries and “cramping.” The coach declined to release a name.
Beckwith still out
Miles is unsure when linebacker Kendell Beckwith will return to spring practice.
Beckwith missed Tuesday’s practice while still recovering from a knee injury he suffered in the third practice of spring drills on March 11.
Beckwith said two weeks ago that he expected to return to drills after spring break. LSU and Beckwith classified the knee injury as minor. He twisted the knee during a live contact drill.
“I think there’s some time he needs to heal,” Miles said.
Asked if he’d return before spring practice ends, the coach said, “That would be speculation. I have no idea.”
LSU receiver Travin Dural is running at full speed as he gets closer to recovering fully from a horrific hamstring injury.
Dural’s hamstring tore completely off his leg bone while attempting a catch in a loss at Ole Miss in November. Miles said he’s on pace to rejoin the team for summer workouts in June.
“He needs to train, needs to get stronger,” Miles said. “He does that, he’ll be fine.”
— Maya Lau contributed to this report.
— Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.