President Barack Obama on Monday welcomed the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) winner Alabama Crimson Tide football team to the White House.
The number one-ranked Tide won its 13th college football national championship in January, soundly defeating the Texas Longhorns by a score of 37-21.
Obama took a jab at White House Press
Secretary Robert Gibbs during the East Room ceremony. Gibbs is an
Alabama native but was born in Auburn and is a fan of the Auburn Tigers.
"I've got to tell you, everyone was really excited about this team
coming today -– except for my Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs --
(laughter) -- because he was born and raised in Auburn," the president
said. "He's hiding in his office right now."
These types of
ceremonies are typically controversy-free but this one came under
scrutiny in January from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a fierce opponent of
the BCS system.
Hatch asked that the only other undefeated team in the top rung of college football, the Boise State Broncos, be invited to the White House so they could appear with the Crimson Tide.
Boise State did not win the national title game, but did prevail over The Texas Christian Horned Frogs in the Fiesta Bowl, a non-championship BCS bowl game. Hatch believes that a formal playoff system should take the place of the BCS, a system that selects the match-up for the championship game through a complex series of human and computer rankings.
W. Bush did invite both Southern California and Louisiana State to the
White House in 2004 but while LSU won the BCS national championship
game, USC also finished number one in the final Associated Press poll.
Boise State finished number four in final polling.
Obama has also expressed displeasure with the BCS system and has voiced support for a playoff system, but the White House declined to invite Boise State.