— WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama honored the University of Alabama football team for winning the BCS championship to culminate what he called a "deeply meaningful season for the Tide."
Obama's message to the Crimson Tide went beyond the team's second national title in three seasons and a 21-0 shutout of LSU in the BCS championship game in January.
He praised the Tide coaches and players for their efforts in the Alabama community, noting their role in helping rebuild Tuscaloosa, Ala., after devastating tornadoes touched down in April 2011.
"Now, obviously this is a team that knows something about adversity," Obama said. "It was one year ago next week that an F4 tornado carved a path right through the town of Tuscaloosa. I traveled down there two days later to see the devastation with the mayor and the governor. And I've got to tell you, I'd never seen anything like it."
The team emerged from the second floor of the White House onto the balcony while a U.S. Marine Corps combo played the fight song "Yea Alabama."
Obama emerged from the Oval Office in the West Wing with Nick Saban. Among those present were Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions and Rep. Spencer Bachus.
Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones presented Obama with a crimson and white jersey with his name on the back and the No. 14 representing the total national titles the Tide counts. He also got an Alabama helmet.
"I'm probably going to need a helmet between now and November," Obama joked
The president also made reference to last weekend's accidental shattering of the $30,000 Waterford Crystal trophy from the title.
"So this team didn't just shatter records," Obama said. "I hear the championship trophy also took a bit of a spill earlier this week."
The combo played "Sweet Home Alabama" as he shook hands with the Tide contingent.