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News Obama Invites Oregon to White House: "They would've won the NCAA football tournament in an upset"
It's been decided. For weeks there has been debate about whether President Obama would invite BCS champion Alabama to the White House as well as Boise State, who also finished the season undefeated and with a BCS bowl win. Supporters of a playoff, which the president also strongly supports, said the move would pressure college football to scrap the unpopular BCS system.
Today the president announced that neither team would be invited.
"After careful thought, consideration and research, I have come to the conclusion that Oregon would have won the national championship had an eight-team playoff been in place," the president said. "Yes, it would have been a bit of an upset the seventh seed going all the way. But this is the sort of thing that makes sports so exciting. It was decided on the field."
The announcement is especially surprising because Oregon finished the season 10-3 and ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll after becoming the first Pac-10 team to lose the Rose Bowl in a decade. But the president attributes that to the fact that the Ducks had almost no hope for a national title after dropping their opening game to Boise State.
"Give a team something to play for, give someone hope, and amazing things can happen," said Obama. "Oregon's first-round upset of Texas was something we never would have forgotten. That final play three reverses, six laterals. And then suddenly a crack and open space all the way to the end zone. Greatest play in sports history? Probably. If only it had happened."
While playoff supporters applaud Obama's move, political opponents say it is just a cynical ploy for votes.
"The president is obviously concerned about his base after Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts and he's trying to solidify support in the blue state of Oregon," said House minority leader John Boehner. "It's a cheap trick."
But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs strongly denies that.
"If that was the president's intention, he would have invited Ohio State, a program from a swing state," said Gibbs. "But he didn't. And thank God. I don't think anyone wants to deal with Ohio State being national champions. Even fictional national champions."
The intention was to simplify things in his first season on the job. But now first-year head coach Chip Kelly is starting to worry that scripting out his team's first 425 plays could backfire.
"There is uncertainty when a new coach takes over so I wanted to get past that," said Kelly, the new head coach at Oregon. "From the first day of spring practice, I've been drilling these opening 425 plays into my players. And they know them to perfection."
While many coaches script the opening plays of a game, Kelly took it a step farther a step that led to some awkward scenarios in the team's season-opening loss.
"The goal line dive play we ran late in the game on that 3rd-and-long we needed to pick up wasn't ideal," said Kelly. "It was in the script. We got three hard-fought yards. But we needed nine. There was nothing I could do. It is regrettable. But, if you think about it, I don't think we would have been behind at all had we not punted on 2nd-and-goal at the two back in the second quarter."
That scripted play took almost guaranteed Oregon points off the board. It also allowed Boise State to pick up 18 yards to the 20 when the punted sailed easily through the end zone.
"It was our first game. There are going to be some growing pains regardless of the script," said Kelly.
With that lesson learned, Kelly says he will tweak things going forward.
"The offense was executing things perfectly," he said. "The situations just weren't always the best. We need to start putting them in better spots on the field. So next game we will script our defensive plays, too. I'm thinking a weak-side blitz on the 11th play of the game will be perfect."