WASHINGTON, D.C. (WYTV) – President Barack Obama made sure to take a little credit for college football’s new playoff system when he honored the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes at the White House on Monday.
“I cannot claim full credit,” President Obama joked. “I will point out that I pushed for a playoff system in 2008. I’d say I threw my weight around.”
Head Coach Urban Meyer, Athletic Director Gene Smith and Ohio State President Michael Drake stood in the East Room with Obama during his remarks. Behind them were more than 90 team members, dressed in blazers and ties, including starting offensive guard Billy Price of Austintown.
Four captains stepped up to present the president with a game ball and a personalized jersey: Number 44 for the 44th president.
“We’re glad he’s [Obama] a sports fan,” Meyer said in a news conference after the presentation.
The Buckeyes went into the first-ever college football playoffs as the fourth and final seed. Having only made his first college start in the Big Ten Conference Championship game, third-string quarterback Cardale Jones went on to lead Ohio State to two more victories and the school’s eighth national championship.
It was Ohio State’s first since 2002.
“Anybody with a nickname like ‘Twelve-Gauge’ has to be taken seriously,” Obama said of Jones. “I told him that I could throw a football 75 yards also, but he didn’t believe me. So he clearly is a smart kid.”
Obama also highlighted Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and All-American Joey Bosa and his signature celebration, a shrug, which Bosa was happy to perform for all attending.
Along with Ohio State’s on-field resilience, the president commended the team on off-the-field community work.
“This was a team of true character, of true resilience,” the president said.