The Ohio State football team visited the White House on Monday as President Barack Obama congratulated it on its recent championship-winning season.
The Buckeyes won their eighth national championship on Jan. 12, beating the Oregon Ducks, 42-20, in the first-ever College Football Playoff title game.
The team traveled to the White House for the honorary event held for the college football champions every year.
After the players took their places, Obama entered the room accompanied by coach Urban Meyer, OSU President Michael Drake and OSU vice president and athletic director Gene Smith. The event was live-streamed on the White House’s website.
Obama began the ceremony in an OSU fashion with three “O-H,” “I-O” chants. He kept the mood light, joking about Meyer’s three championship victories.
“It’s coach Meyer’s third time winning (the championship) with his second team,” Obama said. “I’ve only done it twice — and with the same team both times,” referring to winning two presidential elections.
The president went on to recap OSU’s season, putting emphasis on the much talked-about quarterback situation. Obama drew cheers when he mentioned redshirt-sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett’s ill-timed injury against “a certain team up north,” stating he wasn’t allowed to say Michigan’s name.
Obama talked about some of the “characters” on the team, pointing out departing senior wide receiver Evan Spencer’s “selfless” play, junior running back Ezekiel Elliott’s untucked jersey and junior defensive lineman Joey Bosa’s signature shrugging celebration, which the president imitated.
Obama finished his address by praising the players’ performance both on and off the field, mentioning the various community service and charity works the players had done, saying, “The love between this team and their community is mutual.”
“I will say when you get 100,000 fans to show up to a practice (Spring Game), I think it’s fair to say that your fans are a little crazy,” he joked. “But obviously it’s working for them and it’s working for this extraordinary team.”
Meyer took the podium next, thanking Obama for holding the ceremony.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for being a strong supporter of sports and collegiate athletics, wanting to recognize that you were an early supporter of the creation of the College Football Playoff,” Meyer said, receiving laughs and applause from the audience.
Meyer then called up team captains Doran Grant and Curtis Grant, who presented the president with gifts from the team: a game ball from the national championship game and a scarlet OSU jersey with the No. 44 and “Obama” on the nameplate.
As the ceremony concluded, Obama posed with the team for a group picture. Before leaving, he invited two-time Heisman Trophy winning running back Archie Griffin and Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter, both former OSU football players, on stage to shake hands and take more pictures.
As a final word, Obama asked Drake if he had anything to add. Drake simply replied, “Go Bucks.”