Thomas Donnelly had been a member of the faculty at Marshall University. Harper said when Donnelly took over at New Mexico Highlands, he called Henderson and said he needed a coach.
Henderson told him about Harper, who had played for him and was the team’s MVP in the 1948 Tangerine Bowl.
Gibson coached football through the 1963-64 school year. Among his top players were Lionel Taylor, who went on to play for the Broncos and was an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers for three Super Bowl seasons; Hinton’s Monty Crockett, who played for the Buffalo Bills; Stoco’s Bill Miller, who was recruited by the Houston Oilers; and Logan County’s Charlie Cowan, a Pro Bowler for the Los Angeles Rams.
The Frontier Conference named Gibson coach of the year in 1960. The Cowboys were league co-champions with a 6-2-1 record.
Gibson also coached basketball at the school and reached the NAIA quarterfinals in 1960.
He left New Mexico Highlands after the 1963-64 season and went on to become a high school coach and administrator in Madeira, Calif.
Wetzel, a former Marshall fullback and teammate of Gibson, joined him at Highlands in 1958 and coached until Gibson’s departure.
The Marlinton native went on to have great success at Trinidad Junior College in Trinidad, Colo., and later coached at a high school.
At Marshall, Wetzel played both offense and defense and scored 108 points in 1947, third-best in the country.
Both Wetzel and Gibson are members of the Marshall University Hall of Fame.
Gibson, now 85, lives in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Wetzel died several years ago in Denver.