WASHINGTON, D.C. – NCAA Football champs Alabama’s Crimson Tide visited the White House and President Donald Trump on Tuesday. The players coaches and fans filled the South Lawn of the White House as they gave the president an Alabama jersey with “Trump” on the back.
“Each of you here today is here because of your grit, your drive, your dedication, and your incredible teamwork,” Trump told the players. “You all worked together, inspired each other, had each other’s backs, and drove yourselves onward to one of the greatest victories ever. You carry on a storied tradition of Alabama football excellence.”
Over the years, Alabama has claimed 26 SEC Championships and 17 National Championships, six under its current Coach Nick Saban. Saban told reporters that the team was excited to be invited to the White House, but he also said he told the team that this is not about partisanship.
“I told them, I don’t care what your politics are, we are going,” Saban said to reporters.
Offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher told the Washington Post that coach did not give them an option but to attend, but they didn’t need one. Pierschbacher said they were honored to be invited. Players had a rare afternoon spending time in the White House, rather than just a meet and greet and photo-op. Players filled their social media accounts with pictures of themselves posing with President Trump, in the Rose Garden and showing their championship rings to White House staff. In his speech, Trump called several of them by name praising them on their stats and their individual performance.
Saban also told reporters that he enjoyed calling recruits from the White House as a bit of extra motivation.
Trump attended the national championship game in Atlanta in January, presenting the American flag and appearing on the field for the playing of the national anthem. The patriotic moment came at a time of controversy as players in the NFL and some colleges “took a knee” during the national anthem in protest, something that Trump vehemently and publicly opposed.
“Anyone who wants to know how Alabama does it should study Coach Saban’s simple philosophy. It’s called “The Process.” Coach tells his players, “Don’t look at the scoreboard; don’t look at any external factors.” Just focus “all your efforts, all your toughness, and all your discipline” on executing each play. One play at a time. And by doing that, by focusing on “The Process,” the outcome — winning — will take care of itself. It’s a great philosophy,” Trump said.
“You know, not many people get invited to the White House, so not many people get invited to see the President and meet the President. So this is a special day for our team. A team that is being honored here because of their achievements in terms of winning the college football national championship, which makes me very proud,” said Saban.
UNC-Chapel Hill’s men’s basketball team turned down the chance to visit the White House following their 2017 NCAA national championship win, citing scheduling conflicts.