The White House on Thursday quickly took away the possibility of Boise State University's football team joining the national champions Alabama at an honorary Rose Garden ceremony.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) -- a well known opponent of college football's Bowl Championship Series (BCS) -- sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting that the undefeated Boise State Broncos join the undefeated University of Alabama Crimson Tide at the ceremony.
But a White House spokesman indicated to The Hill that Boise's presence at the ceremony is unlikely, but did not rule it out completely.
"The president has previously articulated his displeasure with the BCS system, but he’s focused on more important things right now," White House spokesman Adam Abrams said in an e-mail.
Obama has criticized the BCS and backed a playoff system in past media appearances but today's indication shows that he is not quite willing to make a large-scale statement on the issue.
The president is simultaneously trying to shepherd healthcare reform legislation through Congress before his State of the Union address in a few weeks and help coordinate U.S. disaster relief efforts in Haiti after a massive earthquake struck there this week.
In 2008, Hatch's home state Utah Utes went undefeated but were not selected to play in the national championship game. The Utes were not invited to the White House when the BCS national champion Florida Gators made their appearance in April 2009.
President George 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 AP poll. Boise State finished number four in final polling.
Today's announcement is a bit of good news for BCS supporters who appear to have averted a moment that would have called into question the legitimacy of the system.
A new poll showing that 73 percent of college football coaches support the current BCS system was released this week and could help buoy the White House's announcement.
The anti-BCS political action committe PlayoffPAC criticized the president for missing an opportunity to "make a statement" against the BCS without spending taxpayer dollars.
"No one's saying this is a top-tier issue on the President's agenda, but college football's off-the-field impact on schools isn't trivial either," PlayoffPAC official Matt Sanderson said in an e-mail. "He promised a year ago to 'throw his weight around,' but now it looks as if he may pass-up a golden opportunity to make a statement without spending one extra taxpayer minute or dollar. An overwhelming majority of college football fans will be disappointed if the President doesn't make good on his word."