WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama honored the national champion Ohio State football team Monday, taking just a little bit of credit for the new playoff system that the Buckeyes mastered.
Ohio State won the first College Football Playoff in January, beating Oregon in the title game.
Obama jokingly talked about throwing his political weight behind the idea of a four-team playoff to replace the old system in which voters and computers selected two teams to play for the championship.
“I cannot claim full credit. But I will point out that I pushed for a playoff system in 2008,” Obama said. “This is a promise kept. You’re welcome, America.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer thanked the president, noting that the Buckeyes probably wouldn’t have been eligible to play for the title under the previous system.
“He made the point several times, but it’s true that he jumped right in the middle of a conversation about a college football playoff that we obviously benefited,” Meyer told reporters.
More than 200 guests and dignitaries packed the White House East Room for the ceremony, including former Ohio State players Archie Griffin and Cris Carter.
Ohio State made an improbable run to the championship after losing two starting quarterbacks to injury, winning its final three games with third-string quarterback Cardale Jones.
All three quarterbacks return for the upcoming season, which has everyone in Ohio — and much of college football — wondering who will be the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback.
Meyer said he got no advice from Obama.
“That was my fault. I should have asked,” Meyer said.