The late 1970s were an interesting time for Arizona State football.
The "Golden Era" reached it's peak with 1975's 12-0 season and No. 2 finish in both polls. In the ensuing years, the team had it's worst season in over two decades, switched conferences, had two nine-win seasons and fired their beloved head coach and became embroiled in an increasingly nasty scandal that reverberated into the 1980s.
During those years, however, the Sun Devils had a superstar along the defensive line that helped shepherd them through those transitional times.
By 1978, Al Harris was a known force along ASU's defensive line. He had earned an All-WAC honorable mention spot in 1976, and played his way onto the All-WAC first team the next season thanks to 24 tackles-for-loss, which would remain a school record until Terrell Suggs' remarkable 2002.
With the school making the leap from the WAC into the new Pac-10 in 1978, there were some concerns about whether the Sun Devils could handle the full-time move to a major conference. Those were quickly cast aside, due in large part to Harris.
That season was the first time that ASU kept track of quarterback sacks, and it was great timing. Harris' pass rushing ability was an absolute terror that year, as quarterback after quarterback felt the wrath of the 6'5", 250 pounder.
By the time the Sun Devils had ended their 9-3 season with a win over Rutgers in the Garden State Bowl, Harris had accumulated a staggering 19 sacks, totaling 160 lost yards for the opposition. Both marks would be school records until Suggs came along in 2002.
Interestingly enough, Harris' fellow defender Bob Kohrs also posted 14 sacks (third in ASU history) for another lost 101 yards. Quite the 1-2 punch.
With such an incredible year, Harris became the first Sun Devil to earn a unanimous selection to the All-American team, and needless to say, was a member of the All-Pac-10 first team.
Harris went on to be drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1979, where he played (except for the magical 1985 season due to a holdout...yikes) until 1989, followed by two seasons with Philadelphia. His entire NFL sack production of 20.5 in those 11 years barley exceeds his magical 1978 year.
Harris was inducted into ASU's Hall of Fame in 1981.
See the previous entries on House of Sparky's 100 day countdown here