Former FSU football coach Bobby Bowden receives inaugural Florida Medal of Freedom

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Former Florida State University coach Bobby Bowden, who built the Seminoles into a college football power and won two national championships, was awarded the Florida Medal of Freedom on Wednesday afternoon by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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Bowden, 91, is the first recipient of the award.

“I could not have received a greater honor than this,” Bowden said during the ceremony. “I’ll treasure it the rest of my life which I don’t know how much longer that’s going to be.”

DeSantis also officially declared April 7 as Bobby Bowden Day, WCTV reported.

DeSantis called the Florida Medal of Freedom an award that recognizes “people who have achieved great things and done a lot on behalf of our state.”

Using a cane, Bowden stepped to the podium and joked about the award, “What took you so long?” the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Bowden weathered a bout with COVID-19 after testing positive in October 2020.

Bowden, who coached at FSU from 1976 to 2009, won national titles after the 1993 and 1999 seasons and finished in the top five in season-ending football polls for 14 consecutive seasons.

He had a 357-124-4 overall coaching record in 40 years of coaching Division I football, including a 315-98-4 mark at FSU. Bowden’s record was adjusted by the NCAA, which took 11 victories away from him due to team violations. In the NCAA books, Bowden is officially listed with a 346-123-4 mark.

Bowden coached 24 All-Americans during his career and went 22-10 in bowl games. The field at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee was renamed Bobby Bowden Field in 2004.

He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. Bowden was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame in 2012.

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