ABC News’ Yunji de Nies Reports: President Obama praised the University of Alabama football team today in the East Room, declaring “Safe to say, the Tide is back.” The president said everyone at the White House was happy to welcome the BCS National Champions, that is minus his press secretary Robert Gibbs. “He’s from Auburn,” Mr. Obama said with a laugh, “He’s hiding in his office right now.” Beyond athletics, the president also congratulated the team’s high graduation rate and the many hours they spend doing community service. The team met earlier today to mentor local school children in Washington, D.C. “That’s how champions act – in football and in life,” the president said. The team gave the president a University of Alabama jersey, football and helmet. One of the athletes encouraged the president to put the helmet on for the group photograph, but Mr. Obama refused. “I’m not gonna put that on – it’s gonna mess up my do,” he said.