K-State Sports Extra: On the Road from Indy

by Mark Janssen 

John Currie said it was "completely by accident" that he found himself sitting beside a legendary K-Stater on his return flight from Indianapolis, Ind., this past Saturday.

In the window seat, Currie reflected, "The guy on the aisle asked me where I was going, and I said, 'Manhattan.' He said, 'Manhattan, Kansas?' and I said, 'Sure.' "

Then came the response from the stranger, "I used to live in Manhattan from 1967 through 1974."

Currie said he had never heard the raspy voice before, or seen the man before, but he said, "I just had the feeling, 'That's Vince Gibson.' "

And it was.

"He had a book he was reading and I had a big stack of work with me, but we spent the next two hours just visiting about his days at K-State and his career," said Currie. "It was a big thrill for me to meet this person who I had heard so much about at Tennessee and K-State.

"He was very interested in how things were going here, and you could tell still very fond of the people of K-State," Currie said. "And for me, I always enjoy the opportunity to talk and pick up information from coaches and business people. I'm constantly asking questions to pick up any information that I can on what people have done right and done wrong."

Gibson came to K-State prior to the 1967 season, inheriting a team that had a 0-19-1 record in the previous two seasons, and a program that had gone seven straight seasons without scoring a single point against arch-rival Kansas.

Gibson came to K-State from the University of Tennessee, where he had served on coach Doug Dickey's defensive coaching staff.

Ironically, Currie spent a portion of his administrative career with the Volunteers where Dickey was then the Tennessee athletics director.

"Vince told me about coming in for his job interview and talking about the new stadium," Currie said. "He said he was so excited to get that first head coaching job that when he got home and his wife asked how much they were going to pay him, he said, 'I don't know. I forgot to ask about that.' "

Currie said that every program has individuals who served as "building blocks" with Gibson certainly being one of those at K-State.

"He talked about some of the players he brought in, plus a couple wins over Oklahoma and one over Nebraska that helped turn the fortunes of K-State football at that time," Currie said of Gibson, who coached K-State into the national polls for the first time in school history, and in 1970 was named the Big 8 Conference Coach of the Year.

And, Currie heard the story about how Tennessee had its "Big Orange" slogan, and how Gibson brought "Purple Pride" to K-State.

Today, Gibson, 77, lives in New Orleans, La., where helps in putting together sports tour packages to such events as the Super Bowl, Ryder Cup, Kentucky Derby, and this past week, to the Final Four.

Currie said he offered an open invitation for Gibson to return to the K-State campus to be recognized at a future home football game.