Michigan Week marches on.
I’ll be honest—you should check out Brian’s reports from Big Ten Media Days (Part 1, Part 2) and 97allstars’ preview of Michigan using memes and actual rational analysis. Because the takes you’re about to read on pizza will probably piss you off.
Away we go!
Question #1: Rank the Pizzas
Today we’re defaulting to a classic, with four caramelized corners of crispy-yet-chewy goodness: The Detroit-style pizza! Once again, shamelessly stolen, this time from City Lab’s “How Place Makes Pizza”:
Blue steel industrial utility trays were ubiquitous in Detroit in 1946. At the height of the auto industry’s power, these could be found in virtually any factory. They were wholly conventional. They weren’t even blue: That’s just the name of the grade of steel used to make them.
But Gus Guerra saw something special in blue steel utility trays: He saw a little piece of home. Guerra, who was working at Buddy’s Pizzeria in 1946, figured that he could make a decent Sicilian-style pizza in a blue steel utility tray. Even if the pan was rectangular in shape.
He was right. The trays only need a little bit of oil to be non-stick, and they turn out to be excellent conductors of heat, according to Daniel Young, a London-based food critic and former restaurant critic for the New York Daily News. The pan gave Detroit’s deep-dish pizza its defining characteristic: the way that the Wisconsin-brick cheese leaks out and burns along the edges of the pan, creating its caramelized crust.
And here, over 70 years later, we have Little Caesar’s bacon-wrapped crust. Evolution!
Your task today, writers: Rate Detroit-style pizza, specifically in the pantheon of other American styles (do consult that link for a full list), namely New York, Chicago, New Jersey’s tomato pie bullshit, that St. Louis nonsense, California, and whatever else you can think of.
Brian: Detroit style pizza? Sure.
But having said that: 1. Chicago deep dish 2. Neapolitan 3. NY thin crust.
MC: Obligatory reminder that Chicagoans do not really eat deep dish pizza unless with visitors that want it, and Chicago-style pizza locally is tavern style. The exception being at Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder, which everyone will point you to and can best be described as deep dish volcano upside-down pie. Wear stretchy pants.
That being said, I would put Detroit-style right after New York-style and tavern style, in that order. Sicilian is a good type of pizza to emulate and Detroit-style is fantastic when done right.
BrianB2: Being raised in the mid-atlantic and/or “the deep south” to some of you, an area that isn’t particularly known for its pizza, or any distinct style of pizza really, I have never been caught up in the totally rational arguments about which style of pizza is superior. Although, for those curious, I have had crab meat AND Old Bay on a pizza, it’s ...okay, definitely not the best way to enjoy crab.
I suppose I prefer a more traditional NY style pizza, sometimes the oversized slices and needless grease do lead to a floppy mess though. I find Chicago deep dish to be a little silly, it definitely tastes good, but it isn’t conducive to hand-to-mouth delivery, which for me is a huge strike against it. I have had that Little Caesar’s pizza at one point or another, it was fine, although I am skeptical it is a true representation of “Detroit-Style Pizza”. And I agree, anything associated with New Jersey is bull shit.
At the end of the day it is bread, tomato sauce and cheese, I am not all that concerned with how those ingredients are packaged and presented to me, as long as it tastes good and you don’t put any F*CKING PINEAPPLE ON IT.
Beez: I’m with Mr. B2 re: pizza. I’m mostly fine with whatever pizza you want to give me! I love Chicago-style deep dish, but I don’t think I’d like it if it were the normal/all-the-time pizza. I also thoroughly enjoy and miss Rocky Rococo’s pizza, which I believe is detroit style (right? Thick, quasi deep dish pizza cut in squares?).
New York style is fine, particularly Sbarro, but it’s reputation as THE pizza is disastrously overblown. I don’t know what the other styles are, but they’re probably good. The two best pizza places I’ve ever been to were both in Alaska, btw. And yes, I’ve gone to the “original” pizza place in NYC and I’ve been to Sbarro in multiple states.
Andrew K: I’ll rep for Detroit-style as being a nice compromise between a floppy grease wedge (New York) and the indomitable dough slab (Chicago). The crust is by far its best feature, and the recent emergence of your 8-corner varieties wherein they just put two smaller pizzas next to each other is a game changer.
St Louis style is actually not bad if you’re a topping-driven type, but it’s also too easy to eat a table-sized pizza because of the lack of dough.
Boilerman: It’s Pizza. I’ll eat it. For the most part. As long as it’s not St. Louis style trash.
MNW: Sometimes I worry about our additions to Off Tackle Empire dot blogspot dot com, and then Brian goes and gives the Absolutely Correct Take that pineapple does not now, not ever belong on pizza, and I smile and think that maybe I’m not completely fucking this place up.
I have to be in the mood for Detroit-style pizza, but that’s more a reflection of my taste -- I like to gobble up piece after piece, and while nice and chewy, Detroit-style requires savoring.
Anywho, my rankings:
(1) Tavern, with a bullet;
(2) New York;
(4) Chicago pizza hotdish;
(5) Neapolitan, which is Bad because you’re charged as much/more for about 33% the ingredients of any of the above four;
(6) St. Louis;
(7) Papa John’s;
(8) a broken glass-and-dirty BandAid pizza;
(9) New Jersey tomato pie.
Best style of pizza:
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New York thin crust
Chicago deep dish
Does pineapple go on pizza?
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Question #2: Is Don Brown a fraud?
Jim Harbaugh insists that the system DC Don Brown has brought to the Wolverines has and will continue to stymie Big Ten offenses. The Wolverines do it, that SBNation piece noted, with an aggressive man defense which swarms the ball, and the speed of recruits like CB Daxton Hill should bolster a defense in need of more speed.
Hill’s already being hailed as the second coming of Jabrill Peppers. Harbaugh teased a speed rush package this summer, and DT Mike Danna, an All-MAC transfer from Central Michigan, can help a pass rush featuring the seven returning sacks of OLB Josh Uche and the versatility of Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye.
Then you remember 62-39 and 41-15.
Then you remember the departures: Devin Bush, Jr. Rashan Gary. Chase Winovich. David Long. Tyree Kinnell.
Then you remember that Ohio State poached Michigan assistants Greg Mattison and Al Washington.
In their places are assistants Anthony Campanile and Shaun Nua, who will have the additions Hill and Danna, the pass-defending experience of SS Josh Metellus and wide-side CB Lavert Hill, and a defensive lineup that continues reloading and a smart coordinator in Brown who should be able to adjust and put the memory of 62-39 behind him.
So, writers, WSR asks you: Can you spot what else the Michigan defense needs to win the East before Don Brown justifiably assaults offensive players and coaches?
Bonus: Who’s the current Jabrill Peppers in the B1G? Which player should win all of the awards?
Brian: I’m not sure I understand the exact question, but I know this: Michigan lost a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, with Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, David Long and Devin Bush all moving on to the NFL. The cupboard is far from bare, however, with playmakers like Khaleke Hudson, Josh Uche and Lavert Hill returning. Look for Sophomore Aiden Hutchinson to impress in a larger role, as well.
Even if Michigan’s younger players excel in their leading roles, however, Michigan still won’t have the depth it’s had the past two seasons. But more importantly, for Michigan to take the next step, the Wolverines needs to show that they can adapt. If there has been a weakness in Michigan’s defense, it’s that Michigan has had difficulty adapting to offenses that are able to find a gap – or gaps – in Michigan’s scheme. Last year Indiana took advantage of the middle of Michigan’s defense. Ohio State later torched the Wolverines doing much of the same thing. But it was more than that. Ohio State isolated mismatches – catching players like Brandon Watson and Devin Gil in positions that didn’t play to their strengths. Ohio State attacked and Michigan couldn’t react/adapt.
That’s where Michigan needs to improve.
BrianB2: In the four games since Maryland beat Michigan in the big howse (Jim Harbaugh was their coach then too, right?) we have averaged 258 yards of total offense and 8.5 points, scoring three entire offensive touchdowns. So, from my perspective you have the best defense to have ever existed and the only reason you haven’t won the East yet is because Alex Smith placed some sort of ancient Mormon curse on Jim Harbaugh for benching him in 2012 for Colin Kaepernick.
I cannot really think of this years Jabrill Peppers, in terms of a player with that much versatility. I imagine Joe Bachie of MSU is primed for a pretty solid year.
Beez: I frankly have no idea what Michigan’s defense needs to do to win the East. Hope that OSU’s offense has a down year? Hope for rain and snow and wind? If last year’s REALLY GOOD Michigan defense can’t keep any team, even OSU, below 60 damn points, but it can steamroll basically anyone else...it seems like the problem is OSU’s offense and Harbz’s coaching ineptitude more than any sort of scheme or personnel issue. Even Wisconsin and Purude don’t give up 60 to OSU.
Andrew K: Let’s face facts: a large part of Don Brown’s mystique is built on overwhelming inferior opponents in impressive fashion. Sitting on Rutgers’ head every year does a lot for those stats, after all. As you suggested, though, when they face an offense that’s both talented and well-schemed, they often look like they’re a step behind. Don Brown’s an old dog, but if he doesn’t learn the trick of changing things up when a talented opponent does things he doesn’t expect, there are going to be more embarrassments.
How dare you suggest anyone could ever live up to the hashbrown ELITE HYPE of St. Peppers, who in 2 functional years of play was...not as good as his immediate successor, Khaleke Hudson, who is twice the player with one tenth the pub. But if we’re looking for September Heisman candidates, why would we cast our gaze anywhere but Ann Arbor? And why, with national pundits slobbering all over the Wolverines, is Shea Patterson not getting a second shot at the SH?
How will Michigan’s defense finish up in 2019?
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Elite—best in the Big Ten.
Top tier, but struggles against OSU. Again.
Solidly middling, tough to stay atop the hill without the depth.
Which Michigan player ought to win the September Heisman?
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