President Obama welcomed the undefeated national champion University of Alabama football team to the White House Monday, saying "it's safe to say that the Tide is back."
The president hailed the "selflessness and dedication" of Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram and the "incredible skills" of Coach Nick Saban. "There aren't too many coaches in the country who have the knowledge, the motivational skills, the program discipline to win two national championships in six years -- let alone at two different schools," he said.
He joked that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs -- an Auburn native -- was "hiding in his office right now."
"Congratulations to all of you," said Mr. Obama as he concluded his comments. "The best of luck next season. I know spring practice starts on Friday -- woo, man. Next Friday, huh? So enjoy these last few days off. And congratulations to all of you for just an extraordinary season. Roll Tide."
The president noted that Alabama had now won 13 national championships, the previous one 17 years ago. He said the newest national champions would have made former Alabama coach Bear Bryant proud.
Both Alabama senators, Republicans Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, attended the White House event, as did surgeon general Regina Benjamin, an Alabama native.