3:18 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Great job. Big guys back there, huh? Well, thank you very much. And it’s my great honor to welcome the college football national champions to the White House, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Congratulations. Congratulations. (Applause.)
To the University President Stuart Bell, Athletic Director Greg Byrne, Coach Nick Saban, and the extraordinary group of players — and they are extraordinary and they’re going to be very rich; they’re going to be very — (laughter) — gathered here, congratulations on your incredible victory. It was truly a win for the ages. I don’t know if you know, but I was there. I was there. I got to see it.
Each of you here today is here because of your grit, your drive, your dedication, and your incredible teamwork. 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. It really is excellence. Coach, you’ll have to explain that. You could sell that secret, make a lot of money. You know that. (Laughter.) You could only sell it.
Over the last several decades, America learned — it’s really — in a very big way, learned that Alabama football knows how to win and how to keep winning. They just keep winning. And it also takes a great coach and a great athletic director and all of the other ingredients.
But you’ve now claimed 26 SEC Championships and 17 National Championships. Five of your national championships were won under Coach Saban. Was it five or six? Six? I thought it was six. It’s going to be six. Right?
COACH SABAN: And one at LSU. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: And one at LSU. That’s right. (Laughter.) So you have six altogether? Wow. (Laughter.) They shouldn’t have let you go, Coach. (Laughter.) And they’re thinking about that, too. Including this year’s national championship, which will go down as one of the most exciting finishes in college football history — of any sport.
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.
In the national championship game, you stuck to “The Process,” even when it was looking pretty tough. I was watching. I said, “Coach, not looking too good.” Down 13-to-nothing at halftime to a great Georgia team, these champions fought back as they did all season long. And they kept fighting and fighting.
Jalen Hurts displayed amazing poise and leadership. Where’s Jalen? Jalen. (Applause.) Great. Great job. That was poise.
Calvin Ridley torched defenses all year, becoming the only second receiver — and you’re the only one — in Alabama history to compile over 200 receptions for a career. Two-hundred. Where’s Calvin? Hey, Calvin. (Applause and laughter.) Two-hundred receptions. That’s not bad.
Damien Harris took his rightful place alongside the famed Alabama ball carriers of past years. Damien. Damien. Hey, Damien. (Applause.)
Rashaan Evans and Da’Ron Payne and the rest of the defense beat opposing offenses into submission. I’ve watched a lot of those games and sometimes, as Coach Saban likes to say, you flat-out made them quit. They quit. We’re doing that to a lot of people, too. (Laughter.) I learn.
Where’s Bradley B. and Rashaan and Da’Ron? Where are you guys? Come here. (Applause.) That money is going to be pouring in. Look at the size of these guys.
So, Bradley, great job. Offensive line kept the Tide rolling downhill. And Bradley got the win of his lifetime after the big game, when his girlfriend agreed to say, “Yes, I will marry you.” (Applause.) She’s still with you?
BOZEMAN: She is. (Laughter.) Luckily.
THE PRESIDENT: She’s still there. That’s good. (Laughter.)
There was one moment when it looked grim for Alabama in the title game. On the first play of overtime, Georgia sacked Tua for a big loss. Where’s Tua? Where’s Tua? (Applause.) Tua, what are you doing up there? What’s he doing up there? (Laughter.) But that was the only loss they got you for.
But the Crimson Tide never gave in — never even a little bit — and it just worked out. On the very next play, Tua dropped back to pass, launched the ball from near midfield — I was watching — and the entire country watched as arms lifted up, and DeVonta Smith caught that ball for the win. DeVonta. (Applause.) And that was amazing win. DeVonta? Where’s DeVonta? What’s going on over there? (Laughter and applause.) Unbelievable throw and a catch.
Every moment of hard work and preparation for Alabama paid off. We’re proud of you. We’re proud of your teammates. Each member of this incredible football program, you can all be proud of yourselves.
We’re proud of the way you play. We’re proud of the way you represent yourselves, your university, and your state. And that is a great, great state. I know because I won it by 32 points. (Laughter and applause.) I actually think more than that, but anyway. You know, with the press, you like to keep it low because they’ll always correct you. (Laughter.)
And we’re proud to once again call the University of Alabama our national champions. Thank you, and Roll Tide. (Applause.)
It’s a great honor of mine to introduce a man I have a lot of respect for. Don’t know him; got to know him today in the Oval Office. And you’ve been here six times, but it’s your first time in the Oval Office. They didn’t invite you, the other — they don’t invite you? See? (Laughter.) Trump invites you.
But he is a great coach. And you know, he’s a great winner. I think, more than anything else, he’s a great winner. Coach Nick Saban. Thank you. Thank you, Coach. (Applause.)
SABAN: 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.
This season was a little bit of a metaphor of life in terms of the togetherness, the hard work, the perseverance that these young men sort of put together to overcome a lot of adversity, to create a legacy for a lifetime and a memory for a lifetime for them because of what they were able to accomplish together as a team.
This group of young men will also learn a lot of lessons, I think, that will help them be more successful in life because of the experiences they had together this year as a team.
A special thanks to our administration, Dr. Bell, our Athletic Director Greg Byrne, and all of the supporters of Alabama football who make our team special. And a special thanks to President — our President to invite us here and make this a special day for us. President Trump, thank you so much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you.
SABAN: And because of our gratitude, our captains would like to make a presentation to our President. Captains.
[Team jersey is presented.]
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I like that. (Laughter.)
SABAN: Looks good. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll put it on.
3:27 P.M. EDT