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Obama Salutes Auburn Tigers...and Robert Gibbs

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The president honored the Auburn University Tigers at the White House Wednesday for their 2010 college football national championship and for “winning their first national title since before I was born.”

“I’m getting quite a bit of gray hair. So that was a long wait for Tigers fans,” Obama joked.

After “one of the toughest schedules in all of college football last year” Auburn defeated Oregon 22-19 to win the Bowl Championship Series and complete a perfect 14-0 season.

Wednesday’s event was originally slated for late April but was rescheduled due to the devastating tornadoes that hit Alabama and the president’s trip to the affected areas.

Obama thanked members of the team for helping with the recovery effort.

“Even though one of the toughest-hit areas by the storm was the home of the Crimson Tide, this team knew what we all know in situations like this, which is we’re all on the same team. We’re all Americans first and foremost, and we’ve got an obligation to support each other in times of need,” he said.

Obama opened his remarks with a “point of personal privilege” to recognize “the biggest Auburn fan I’ve ever met” -- his former press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Gibbs, who grew up in Auburn, Ala., brought his son Ethan who, according to the president, “has inherited the passion for Auburn that his dad had.”

Obama also took the opportunity to expose the extent of Gibbs’ fanaticism. “Earlier this year when the team was making its run to the championship, Robert was insufferable.  He had a little statue of Aubie on his desk…he and Ethan would roll the trees in front of the yard after a big win.  So this is a big day for him,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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