Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis presented former Florida State University head football coach Bobby Bowden with the inaugural Governor’s Medal of Freedom during a ceremony held at the Governor’s mansion Wednesday afternoon.
Gov. DeSantis presented the medal, which was created recently by the state legislature as the highest civilian award the Governor can give, in front of a crowd of over 50 former FSU players and coaches. Joining the Governor in making comments during the presentation were Florida State University President John Thrasher, 1993 Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward and Bowden’s long-time assistant coach Mickey Andrews.
“The Medal of Freedom is meant to recognize people who have achieved great things and done a lot on behalf of our state,” DeSantis said. “We wanted to make sure that when we had the opportunity to do it, we gave it to someone who deserved it.
“Coach Bowden is someone who has lived his life according to very strong values. Faith in God, patriotism – he loves this Florida State community, he loves this state, and he loves this country. It is an honor of mine to give him this first award.”
“I’ve heard it said over the years, and I sincerely believe it’s true, no coach in college athletics history is more closely associated with the institution they represent than Bobby Bowden and Florida State,” Thrasher said. “Thank you, Coach, for raising our profile and helping Florida State University become one of the top institutions in the country.
Bowden, who led Florida State to national championships in 1993 and 1999, took over FSU’s program following the 1976 season after FSU had won just four games over the previous three seasons combined. He built the Seminoles into one of the top football programs in the country. His record of leading FSU to a top-four ranking in the final Associated Press poll for 14 consecutive seasons has never been duplicated.
“I thank the Governor for this honor,” Bowden said. “You know that the head coach gets all the credit, but it is the players and the assistant coaches who do all the work. I will treasure this award for the rest of my life.”
Bowden retired in 2009 after posting a 316-94-4 record in 34 seasons at Florida State.