Les Miles Cuban Excursion: A Return for LSU Football

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Count Les Miles among the American attendees for the historic MLB exhibition game in Cuba this week.

While Les Miles’ presence in Cuba is presumably his first time visiting the island — barring any illegal grass-tasting expeditions of which we’re not privy — his visit isn’t the first for LSU football.

LSU played in the inaugural Bacardi Bowl in Havana 109 years ago. The Tigers blasted host University of Havana on Christmas Day 1907, 56-0, proving SEC superiority isn’t merely limited to the American mainland.

The first of seven Bacardi Bowls, played intermittently between 1907 and 1946, followed the Rose Bowl Game by just five years. Six of the seven featured a representative from the SEC, and all but one pit the American visitors against a Cuban side. Only the 1937 featuring Auburn and Villanova eschewed a local squad.

This blog is a fascinating resource on the Bacardi Bowl’s brief history, and the surprisingly rich connection between early college football and Cuba in general.

The last Bacardi Bowl was played in 1946, seven years before both the beginning of the Cuban Revolution, and Les Miles’ birth.

In a world without a Cuban Revolution, perhaps the Bacardi Bowl is a part of today’s college football landscape, a la the Bahamas and Hawaii Bowls. Considering it launched just after the Granddaddy of ‘Em All, and given its ties to the SEC, perhaps the Bacardi Bowl is even a part of the College Football Playoff system.

The Bacardi Bowl is the very least of the what-ifs, of course, given the atrocities Cuban people endured under Fidel Castro’s oppressive regime. Dan Le Batard wrote an emotional column from the perspective of a child of Cuban “exiles,” as he calls is parents. It’s a must-read.

Perhaps America lifting its half-century old embargo brings much-needed good to Cuba. Les Miles and others taking this opportunity to do philanthropic work is a small step.