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Pizza, and Someone to Eat the Pizza: A Maryland Defense Potluck Preview

Asking if Ledo's has the best pizza in College Park, and meeting the brother of a dear old friend...

NCAA Football: Maryland at Michigan
Seems like a bad way to play defense, Terps.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland Week!

Yes, more Maryland. Sit there and enjoy it. Or think about what you did.

Anyway, Maryland Week marches on with the discussion of where you can get the best pizza in College Park and the various cities of the Big Ten, and welcomes back a familiar family name...

Question 1: IT'S PIZZA TIME

I’ll be honest, folks: There comes a point--and I’m amazed it’s taken until Week 5 (Maryland Week)--that you just start running out of good ideas or energy to do a really creative, really informed Potluck every night. I’m not going to say “Maryland likes crabs and Old Bay. Talk about crabs and Old Bay,” but damn, do I feel close to that point right now.

DJ tells me the original Ledo’s Pizza is damn good, so I’m going to believe him. And then quote (plagiarize? I don’t give a shit) liberally from the Washington Post [POTLUCKS DIE IN DARKNESS]:

In September of 1955 Thomas Marcos opened the first Ledo’s restaurant on University Boulevard in Adelphi. “It was the shortest Italian name he could think of,” said Tommy Marcos Jr., who now runs the restaurant with his father and brother, Jimmy Marcos. Marcos Jr. says that his father wanted a short name because it would be cheaper to put on the sign. For many years, Ledo’s was one of the most popular hangouts for students at the University of Maryland at College Park. Though the area near the university has changed, and College Park students now have a wealth of choices, “We stay very competitive,” Marcos Jr. said of the student clientele. “We draw from all around.” In 1989 the family began franchising Ledo Pizza Systems Inc. but sold the franchise in 1994 and focused again on the original place they loved.

And so, we come to the easy part: If you’re a Marylander/East Coaster, tell me your Ledo’s story. If you’re not, tell me your local-chain-gone-big or must-hit-pizza-joint on campus.

WSR: RIP IN PEACE CAMPUS PIZZA! Which means, I guess, that Mesa Pizza wins by default? It’s just a damn shame that my beloved CP is gone (BUT NOT FORGOTTEN!) because I could really use a Paulshroom Special right about now.

BRT: Lincoln’s pizza scene is unexceptional, IMO, so I’m going to give some love to my favorite East Coast place, which is Ned’s Pizza in Ithaca, NY. Ned is the classic outgoing Italian pizza guy, and he makes a damn fine pizza. I tried not to indulge too much (hard, since it was a block from my home) but it was all I ate during the last week of every semester when survival was Job #1 and stress could only be solved with pepperoni.

Jesse: Lincoln has yia-yias which is good, but that’s not exactly a ‘gone-big’ sorta thing. But the pacific pizza was a favorite of mine. Cream cheese, pineapple, ham, and cheese was always good. Omaha has Pitch which is also pretty good, but sorta in the same boat. Good not great. Valentinos is popular but sucks. Godfathers started in Omaha and is headquartered there… That’s a thing. Basically what BRT said… It ain’t great.

Now, because I have to talk about my current home… Austin has a pretty amazing pizza scene. Via 313 is a Detroit Style that is done right, Home Slice is probably my favorite overall, and like, Little Deli has pizza and/or amazing subs. Bufalina is really good. Pinthouse is really good. Slapbox up in Round Rock is awesome. What I’m saying is that I eat a lot of pizza down here and it’s great.

Thumpasaurus: As a 7-year resident of the metro Detroit area, what the hell is Detroit style pizza? Are we’s? Cuz Buddy’s is aight, but Shield’s is the TRUTH.

Anyway, of course I’m gonna say Papa Del’s, but I’m also going to say D.P. Dough. I don’t care how many other places it’s in, it’s a thing I want to get whenever I go back to Champaign so it qualifies for this list.

Candystripes: Anyone who has taken the time to read IU potlucks before (god bless you) knows that I will wholeheartedly recommend Mother Bear’s as the best pizza in Bloomington. Depending on how fancy your taste in pizza gets, you may also want to look into Aver’s (very fancy), Pizza X (much less fancy, also carryout only), or Cafe Pizzaria (somewhat fancy, but more laid back).

Creighton: By my count there are no fewer than 6 pizza places in Iowa City that are superior to anything offered in Charlottesville, but if you’re visiting Iowa City for a game this year and only have a chance to try one pie I’ll recommend the Wig and Pen. Order a flying tomato pizza with your choice of toppings and enjoy. You’re welcome. Honorable mention: Pagliai’s (for New York style) and Sam’s (for Chicago style).

LPW: I used to love getting Pizza by the slice at TomatoHead pizza right across the street from DePaul’s campus, but it burned down in a kitchen fire and is now an Amazon Pickup center.

One of the all time best pizza places is Pequods! And there’s also this pizza place on Lincoln Avenue that is only open late at night on weekends when students are drunk and hungry. I wonder just how that place pays rent…… My favorite deep dish pizza in Chicago is Giordanos. There used to be a Giordanos across the street from DePaul’s computer science school in the loop that I would sometimes get a slice of pizza from for lunch.

Boilerman: If you wanted good pizza, Bruno’s was always the place to go. The only problem was it was down on the Levee which meant needing a car to get there without risking getting hit by a townie along State St. or crossing River Road at the bottom of the hill. One of the best deals on campus was Boiler Express with their Pitcher and Pie deal, but it appears to no longer exist. Late night, it was Mad Mushroom and their cheesesticks. These could only be consumed if you had drank at least a sixpack. Otherwise, the grease would turn your stomach inside out and you’d risk spending the night like you were prepping for a colonoscopy.

Ray: The objectively greatest pizza on the Earth - possibly in the known universe - is Vito’s Pizza in Pennington, NJ. Everything from the plain jane to the bbq-chicken and the cheesesteaks to boot are absolutely stellar.

That said, any slice in NJ or NYC (ok fine probably Maryland too) is going to be godlike compared to the crap you midwesterners refer to as “pizza.” Yous all are a nice bunch, but your pizza puts the trash in trash.

Question 2: Return of the Hoke

Defense. Maryland, ostensibly, has one. And it’s got a new coordinator! AND he’s Brady Hoke’s brother! This is Christmas.

DJ did an excellent job telling you about Jon Hoke yesterday, but suffice it to say that he’s...wanting...for lasting college football experience (this is his first DC job not under Steve Spurrier). In the limited (recent...not going back to 1999-2001 Florida) sample that we have, the 2015 Sakerlina season, Hoke’s defense dropped from 71st in Defensive S&P+ the prior year to 105th and struggled to prevent drives from ending in scores. Do with that...what you will.

Hoke inherits a run defense that, at 4.38 ypc yielded, was solidly middle-of-the-pack and graduated Jesse Aniebonam and Byron Cowart, not to mention S Darnell Savage Jr.

Anyway, Testudo Times tells us this is a base 3-4 defense (we’ve discussed this), with a tested LB in Isaiah Davis...but fewer at the other inside LB and both outside LB positions. So, I mean...not ideal.

And as such, writers, I ask you: With such gems as “the Terps’ lone tackle for loss in the spring game” in that above bad could this be? (As Maryland will be #CHAOSTEAM in 2019, though...not a problem.) With the Terps likely hoping for four-star DeMatha recruit Nick Cross [HELL YEAH] to produce right away, is there a thing to be excited for among this group that already only came up with 16 sacks in 2018?

WSR: I have no idea what to think, because Maryland keeps doing just enough (with our help, mind you) to win against us and it’s just infuriating. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them be a yo-yo defense that gets some huge wins because they’ve got some raw talent and some ugly losses because you can’t count on a Hoke in the B1G.

BRT: Well, I’M excited for their defense because it sounds like someone might be worse than Nebraska’s! That is neat. I’d love to know from a Marylander though--why was this the hire? Doesn’t seem like a first (or fifth) choice kind of sitch--am I wrong?

Jesse: So Hoke’s last stint was uh, Tampa Bay DB coach? Let’s go ahead and look at their last season before now and uh… oh. They gave up the third most yards per pass attempt. Well, I’m sure they didn’t allow the third most TDs in the NFL. Oh, well uh… hey, they got 9 INTs total! That’s a thing. I don’t know. This whole thing feels a lot like Nebraska hiring Kevin Cosgrove. Got an offensive genius (ish), bring in the big gun like Brady Hoke’s older brother. Nothing bad will happen, right? Right… best of luck Terps.

Candystripes: You know the rules of #ChaosTeam: Score big, score often, DEFENSE OPTIONAL. Maryland seems very committed to this.

LPW: I’m looking forward to seeing other teams run over the Terps. I don’t think Hoke’s brother will coach up his charges worth a damn.

Ray: Wait a sec. We get to play Brady Hoke’s brother every year!? Our offense is going to be awesome!