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Obama to Florida Gators: Congrats, but college playoffs needed

By Jimmy Orr / April 23, 2009

President Obama tosses a football which was given to him as a gift by the 2008 NCAA Football Champions Florida Gators in the East Room of the White House. "We need a playoff system," Obama said, disapproving of the current way the national champs are selected.

CHARLES DHARAPAK/AP

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Sure, it can be argued that President Obama has flip-flopped a few times since taking office.

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The apparent change of heart over whether his Justice Department will pursue charges against Bush administration officials over harsh interrogation policies could be the most striking example of flippy-floppiness to date.

Foosball

At least in one area, however, he's sticking to his guns: the call for a playoff system in college football.

Trivial? Ask a Longhorns fan. Or anyone in Pete Carroll country. The most explosive reaction you'll get would probably come from Utah. After all the Runnin' Utes went undefeated last year but was not named the national champ.

It's up to you how important the issue is. To President Obama, it's an issue. And he didn't back away it even when surrounded today by the BCS national champions.

We're #1

Obama welcomed the Florida Gators to the White House, following a longstanding presidential tradition of recognizing sporting champions.

And he did everything presidents do when hosting a team. Cracked jokes, threw the ball, received a jersey, said something nice about the coach, and singled out a couple players.

Of course, quarterback Tim Tebow was mentioned. Obama praised the Heisman Trophy winner for apologizing on TV after an upset loss to Ole Miss and "taking it upon himself" to ensure the team played harder.

"That's the kind of leadership that you want to see from all our young people -- taking responsibility, challenging yourself and others, rising to the moment," Obama said. "You didn't promise that the Gators would win every game the rest of the way, but it's a testament to his leadership that they did because he said we'll always play hard."

BCS? No.

As for the system of selecting the national championship? It still had to go.

"I don't want to stir up controversy," the president said. "You guys are the national champions [but] I'm not backing off the fact we need a playoff system."

To avoid a revolt, however, the president added a caveat.

"But I have every confidence that you guys could have beat anybody else. And so we'll see how that plays itself out."

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