Les Miles is spending his spring break on an island.
It’s just not the island you probably expected.
LSU’s football coach is in Cuba this week, the school confirmed Tuesday. Miles attended a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team on Tuesday — the same one that President Barack Obama watched from behind home plate.
Miles is expected to remain in Cuba until at least Friday. The school is not releasing his schedule, saying only that Miles planned to visit schools and hand out soccer balls to children.
Miles “is in Cuba to visit schools & experience the culture. He brought dozens of soccer balls to distribute to kids,” the school released in a tweet.
Miles and his players and staff are on spring break this week. They resume spring practice March 29.
Obama is in Cuba this week as part of the U.S. re-engaging with one of its most bitter and long-standing adversaries. In December, the two countries re-established diplomatic relations and have opened embassies in each other’s capitals.
Obama met one-on-one with Cuban President Raul Casto on Monday and sat behind home plate for the Americans’ 4-1 win over the Cubans, a game televised live on ESPN.
Somewhere in the crowd was Miles. The school confirmed he attended the game, and former LSU star and Rays outfielder Mikie Mahtook tweeted Tuesday morning about Miles’ plans to attend the game.
This isn’t the first time an LSU football coach has journeyed to Cuba.
Coach Edgar R. Wingard led the Tigers to a 56-0 win against the University of Havana in 1907 in what was referred to as the Bacardi Bowl. The school does not classify that duel as a bowl game.
It marked the first time an American college team played on foreign soil. LSU fans raised $2,000 for Wingard and his staff to wager for them on the game once they got to Havana.
“The finesse of the Tigers took the big Cuban team by surprise on Christmas Day at Almendares Park,” the school’s media guide reads.
The game was played in front of 10,000 fans, according to the media guide.
It was a tense time in Cuba. The Spanish-American War had been just a decade earlier, and the hull of the USS Maine, whose destruction in Havana harbor precipitated the conflict, was still visible above the water.
Sideline seats cost $10, a big sum at the time, and the Tigers were cheered on by a large section of American servicemen. LSU brought just 13 players to the game, and standout Doc Fenton led the way to the victory.
Fenton helped lead LSU to its first national championship the next season.
Scoring rules were different then. LSU scored 10 touchdowns at five points each and six extra-point conversions.
Six more Bacardi Bowls were held until 1946. Tulane lost to the Cuban Athletic Club in 1910. Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State), Ole Miss, Florida, Auburn and Southern Miss played in the other games.
Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.