From: Freedman, Dan [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 4:21 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO ; Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO
Subject: In-town pool report #2
President Obama greeted the championship-winning University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team with ``Welcome to the White House! Roll Tide!’’
The team, dressed mostly in suits, entered the East Room first at 3:18p to the strains of the Marine band playing the team fight song ``Rammer Jammer.’’
They lined up in place behind the presidential podium in rows. President Obama entered at 3:22 with Coach Nick Saban. The president greeted Alabama dignitaries in the crowd including Gov. Robert J. Bentley, university president Stuart Bell and athletic director Bill Battle.
He described Saban as ``in the running to be the greatest football coach of all time.’’ (Check all quotes against transcript.)
The president noted this was the fourth time he had hosted the Crimson Tide at the White House after winning the college football championship.
He recognized most of the team’s key players by name, including quarterback Jay Coker and tight end O.J. Howard. But he saved his most lavish praise for running back Derrick Henry, winner of the Heisman trophy.
He termed the team’s winning four titles in seven years ``historic,’’ noting that the last time this occurred was in the 1940s, when players donned leather helmets.
``I don’t feel like anyone in a leather helmet would do too well (against) Derrick Henry,’’ he said. ``Of course, even with a modern helmet, they didn’t do too well against Derrick Henry.’’
He praised Alabama’s graduation rate, No.-1 in the SEC. ``That’s something to be proud (of),’’ he said.
He praised the team’s volunteer work and said ``people in Alabama are extraordinarily proud of this team. Maybe Auburn fans don’t want to admit (it but) everyone recognizes success when they see it.’’
He parted with ``I’d like to say see you next year but we’ve got this thing called term limits!’’ That evoked laughter.
Saban, in his remarks, praised the president for his service in the White House and said: ``The thing that was greatest about this team is they won as one.’’
The team presented the president with a decorative football, a helmet and a jersey, #16, marked ``Obama.’’ After posing with his gifts with the team to a chorus of deafening clicks, the president greeted well-wishers and departed the East Room at 3:32.
The 45-40 championship win over Clemson was Saban’s fourth title win in seven seasons at Alabama, his fifth overall. It capped a 14-1 Crimson Tide season in 2015. Their only loss was to Mississippi in September, in which Alabama uncharacteristically gave up five turnovers.
Hearst Newspapers Washington Bureau
-Albany Times Union