In what has become a tradition for Alabama, the Crimson Tide made the trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the White House and other area landmarks after winning the national title. For the first time, however, this meeting was with President Donald Trump.
Trump, who was in attendance for the early stages of Alabama's 26-23 overtime win over Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship in Atlanta in January, complimented the coaching style of coach Nick Saban.
"Anyone who wants to know how Alabama does it, they should study coach Saban's simple philosophy," Trump said in the event, which was streamed on the White House YouTube channel. "It's called 'The Process.' Coach tells his players 'don't look at the scoreboard, don't look at any external factors, just focus on your efforts, on your toughness and all your discipline on executing each play, one play at a time. By doing that, by focusing on the process, the outcome -- winning -- will take care of itself."
In that national championship, Saban pulled starting quarterback Jalen Hurts in favor of true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who threw three touchdown passes including the 41-yard walk-off winner to DeVonta Smith in overtime. At the White House, Saban reflected on a season that included the ultimate high of the national title, but also a dramatic low when the Crimson Tide lost the Iron Bowl -- and SEC West title -- to Auburn during the final week of the regular season.
"This season was a little bit of a metaphor of life," Saban said "In terms of the togetherness, the hard work, the perseverance that these young men put together to overcome a lot of adversity, to create a legacy for a lifetime and a memory for a lifetime with them because of what they were able to accomplish as a team. This group of young men will also learn a lot of lessons that will help them be more successful in life because of the experiences they had together this year as a team."
Trump complimented Saban, the staff and the players for their ability to persevere through the adversity they faced at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Georgia in January.
"I was watching, and I said 'coach, not looking too good,'" Trump said. "Down 13-0 at halftime to a great Georgia team, these champions fought back as they did all season long, and kept fighting and fighting."
As the event wrapped up, former punter JK Scott organized a prayer circle with several players and Trump, according to Christina Chambers from WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama.
What a cool moment! .@AlabamaFTBL JK Scott asked @POTUS if he could pray for him and his staff. Video below shows President Trump and Bama players praying after the Tide's @WhiteHouse visit! @WBRCnews @BarrettSallee pic.twitter.com/tE4hj4k38l— ChristinaWBRC (@ChristinaWBRC) April 10, 2018
Saban's real job didn't stop. In fact, he used the opportunity to make a big impression on the recruiting trail (because, of course he did).
Nick Saban tells me he called recruits from the White House.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) April 10, 2018
Trump also took a rather subtle shot at Saban's former employer. When talking about his six national championships, Trump was reminded that one of those -- 2003 -- was with LSU. He then joked, "they shouldn't have let you go, coach. They're thinking about that, too."
That's not exactly how that went down...but not a bad zinger either.
Alabama opens the 2018 season in the Camping World Kickoff in Orlando vs. Louisville on Sept. 1.