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Sen. Hatch to Obama: Invite Boise State to White House with Alabama

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Orrin Hatch is urging President Barack Obama to invite Boise State to the White House along with Bowl Championship Series winner Alabama, arguing both undefeated teams deserve the honor traditionally afforded to college football's national champion.

The Utah Republican, a fierce critic of the BCS, made the request in a letter Thursday.

Hatch wrote that because there is no playoff, fans are left to speculate whether more than one team deserves to be called the best in college football. Hatch was already irate that his home state team, Utah, didn't play for the national title last year despite going undefeated.

Last fall, Hatch urged Obama to ask the Justice Department to investigate whether the BCS violated antitrust laws, but he has yet to receive a response.

In Thursday's letter, Hatch argued that inviting both teams will "send a clear message" that champions should be chosen on the field.

"The president has previously articulated his displeasure with the BCS system, but he's focused on more important things right now," White House spokesman Adam Abrams said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, said it was Obama's call.

"But Boise State's own coach, and every other coach in the USA Today poll, along with every journalist in the AP poll, agreed with what happened on the field in Pasadena -- that Alabama is the national champion," he said in an e-mail to the AP. "Really, doesn't Congress have more important things to do?"

Boise State coach Chris Petersen reiterated Thursday night that Alabama should be considered the national champion and should be honored by Obama, even though the Broncos finished 14-0.

"That's a pretty awesome gesture, but I think that's usually reserved for the national championship team, and Alabama is that," said Petersen, who spoke at a banquet in Houston for the Bear Bryant Award honoring the nation's top coach.

Petersen added that if Obama invited his team to the White House, the Broncos would accept.

"I don't think we'd turn it down," he said. "But with all due respect to Alabama, they're the national champions. We'd be going, maybe, for a different reason."

The current college bowl system features a championship game between the two top teams in the BCS standings, based on two polls and six computer rankings.

In 2008, shortly after his election, Obama said he was going to "to throw my weight around a little bit" to nudge college football toward a playoff system.

"In my view, inviting both these great football teams to the White House would be one particularly effective way to do just that," Hatch wrote. "Furthermore, should you invite only Alabama, you would add legitimacy and credibility to a system we both believe to be flawed."

Last month, a House subcommittee approved legislation that would ban the promotion of a postseason NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision game as a national championship