Florida’s Medal of Freedom goes to FSU great Bobby Bowden

FILE - This is a Jan. 10, 2018, file photo showing former Florida State NCAA college football head coach Bobby Bowden at a Rotary Club luncheon in Omaha, Neb. Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has tested positive for COVID-19 and was home monitoring his symptoms. Family friend and Bowden's former publicist Kim Shiff says the 90-year-old Bowden had been hospitalized in Tallahassee, Florida, for about two weeks. He returned home late last week and was informed he had tested positive. Bowden told the Tallahassee Democrat on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, he had not exhibited symptoms of the virus. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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 and 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.