TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Bobby Bowden, the former Florida State football coach who led the Seminoles to two national titles, received the inaugural Florida Medal of Freedom at a ceremony Wednesday hosted by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Bowden, 91, is one of college football’s winningest coaches. He coached Florida State from 1976 to 2009, winning national titles in 1993 and 1999.
“I appreciate you giving me this honor. I will cherish it the rest of my life,” Bowden said after the governor and other speakers hailed him for his work not only as a coach but as a mentor to the hundreds of young men he assembled for his teams.
The state’s medal of freedom recognizes “any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to the interest in citizens of the state and culture public and private endeavor.”
Bowden left Florida State under a cloud because of an academic cheating scandal that prompted the NCAA to strip the team of several victories.
Including those who worked under an interim tag, Florida State has had four coaches since, though the Seminoles won a national championship with Bowden’s successor, Jimbo Fisher.
In his first season, Mike Norvell, the current coach, went 3-6.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.