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B1G 2020, Nebraska Potluck #1: Pizza Buffets and the Scott Frost Rebuild—A Study in Mediocrity

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Lukewarm and easily surpassed by its more urbane neighbors, but a comforting reminder of childhood. Is it Godfather’s Pizza or Nebraska football? NO NEED TO DECIDE:

Leading Conservatives, Presidential Candidates Speak At CPAC Gathering Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Welcome to Nebraska Week!

Jesse’s kicked us off with a 32,000-foot overview of where the Huskers look to be going in 2020, but it’s time to grab a slice, settle in, and take cheap potshots at Nebraska figure out where, exactly, it’s all gone so wrong in Lincoln.

We’re reminiscing on childhood pizza favorites, remembering anything but 70-31, and fixing Huskers football! Join us!

The Food

Late in every July, there would come a day when my dad would load me (and, if I had behaved lately, a friend) in the minivan and make the pilgrimage down US-169 to Mankato State—never “Minnesota State-Mankato,” the proud Mavericks alumnus would remind me—for Vikings training camp.

As much as there were highlights of seeing Randy Moss skulking away, Brad Johnson limping around, and Gary Anderson signing my football in the summer of 1998, there was one added highlight: A stop in St. Peter for a late lunch at the Godfather’s Pizza buffet. (It’s no wonder I weigh what I do.)

Surprised me to learn, then, in my extensive preparation for Nebraska Week 2020 that Godfather’s was founded in Omaha! Long before it was launching the career of a flat-taxing, COVID-contracting CEO, Godfather’s was the brainchild of Omaha bar owner Willie Thiesen, who bought out the owner of Godfather Pizza in 1973 and franchised another location a year later.

While no one associates Godfather’s with must-have pizza today, it certainly evokes comforting memories, both of childhood and of a greasy pizza buffet.

So tell me, writers: (1) Godfather’s—yea or nay? (2) Are you a connoisseur of the pizza buffet, and if so (or not, I guess), tell me your regional pizza chain go-to.

Dead Read: This is the era of Godfather’s that I remember.

The only redeeming feature of Godfather’s was that it was within easy walking distance from my Jr. High, so we could walk there after dances. I also remember an epic shaving cream fight there after the last day of ninth grade (Jr. High was 7-9). The best thing to say about the place was that it was open, and it was close.

pkloa: I’ve spread the gospel of Detroit style pizza on OTE a time or twelve before, so this time, I’m going to do exactly the same.

Buddy’s Pizza is now in Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Grand Rapids. Go there. Try it. If you don’t fall in love with their pizza, I will personally fly to your location and give you a puzzled look.

Zuzu: Uhhh what the heck is Godfather’s Pizza? And this isn’t me being a “Jersey/NYC pizza is king” snob, I have literally never heard of this in my life. I associate Dominos Pizza as the midwest’s pizza chain.

Anyway, I am a slut for Pizza Hut, a Pizza Slhut if you will. When people ask me “what food would you bring to a deserted island?” I’m sorry and guilty that somehow Pizza Hut’s breadsticks flash across my brain first.

MNW: First, in terms of pizza buffets at a chain, give me Godfather’s over Pizza Hut, Cici’s, and Pizza Ranch (in that order).

A less-than-regional chain here in the Twin Cities would be Davanni’s, which falls under the category of “good enough for when your CEO wants to buy pizza for the day-long sexual harassment training but doesn’t want to break the bank.” If I was going something with a little reach in the Midwest, I’d send you to Jet’s and second pkloa’s love of the Detroit style pizza.

Jesse: So uh, no for me on Godfather’s, but that whole taco pizza convo is the only reason I ever wanted to eat there. I am not a fan of any buffets outside maybe a killer brunch buffet.

Interestingly enough, my go-to regional pizza in Nebraska is pitch, which is ol’ Willy Thiesen’s brainchild. So that’s fun.

BMan31: As far as Godfather’s, never had it. When it comes to pizza buffets, obviously right now that’s a big no-go (wear a mask so this debate can have merit once more). In the pre-COVID days, there were two names in the game. Pizza Hut, and Oley’s.

Obviously, Pizza Hut is the big franchise in town but Oley’s is the little guy that probably belongs on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Their lunch buffet is one of the better values in town and they have some really good pizza.

Beez: I know I’ve had Godfather’s before and I’m pretty sure it was perfectly adequate for a child to eat, as is basically all pizza.

Does Mellow Mushroom count as “regional” pizza? What if I thought it was a solo pizza shop in Boone, NC for about 8 years before learning they’re all over the southeast? I pick Mellow Mushroom (get the Kosmic Karma pizza).

Stew: It’s a very unenthusiastic “Eh, I guess.” My wife worked at a Godfather’s back in high school and she really has no feelings on the place. I did have a friend with Ciliac’s who said that Godfather’s had about the best gluten free pizza of any chain, which, low bar, but it’s something.

As for regional pizza chain buffets, gimme Pizza Ranch, and that surprisingly good fried chicken.

WSR: We regularly frequented Godfather’s while I was growing up because it was a cheap way for my parents to turn me loose at a buffet and attempt to get me to fill up. While it never worked, I always appreciated the effort. And as a youth I loved the dessert pizza.

And now, sadly, I have to agree with Stew. Pizza Ranch’s fried chicken is so much better than their pizza offering that they should change their name to Fried Chicken Ranch and offer pizza off to the side.

Poll

Godfather’s: Yes or No?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Fuhgeddaboudit
    (34 votes)
  • 9%
    No?
    (15 votes)
  • 53%
    Yes?
    (88 votes)
  • 16%
    Huh?
    (27 votes)
164 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Vote for a regional pizza thing

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Godfather’s
    (40 votes)
  • 8%
    I too am a Pizza Slhut
    (13 votes)
  • 5%
    Pizza Ranch
    (9 votes)
  • 10%
    Mellow Mushroom
    (16 votes)
  • 10%
    I am voting for this option as an explicit protest of Beez’s inclusion of Mellow Mushroom
    (17 votes)
  • 7%
    Jet’s
    (11 votes)
  • 31%
    Something else you heathens have neglected to mention
    (49 votes)
155 votes total Vote Now

The Football

Speaking of comforting memories of childhood…

It’s time to talk about Scott Frost and Nebraska Cornhuskers football! How excited are you?!

The 2020 season, should it happen, will be Nebraska’s tenth in the Big Ten. While no one (I don’t think, at least!) would look back on the Huskers’ tenure in the Midwest as a rousing success, Nebraska does have a division championship and pair of bowl wins to hang its hat on. But the Huskers’ 40-36 conference record (17-7 Legends, 23-29 West) suggests it has settled in as a comfortable, middle-of-the-road program in the Big Ten. Much like a Godfather’s in a town with two or three local pizza joints, Nebraska is a nice reminder of things gone by.

So tell us these two things, writers:

(1) Nearly 10 years on, give us your high and low points of Nebraska in the Big Ten, and

(2) How would you gauge Scott Frost’s rebuilding process—for that matter, what is the new identity of Nebraska football?

Dead Read:
1) It is easy to chart the lows, and hard to find the highs. Losing to Indiana and Purdue in consecutive weeks, losing to Sun Belt opponents, and winning a division (yay!) only to get destroyed in the championship game /youknowthedrill/ are not traditional Nebby aspirations.

A few years ago Nebraska was “the best 4/5/6 (the scale slid weekly) loss team in the country.” I guess beating CBP-bound Sparty at home was nice. Most of the biggest comebacks in Husker history have come in the last decade - which of course is faint praise, rooted in coming from behind, often, and from large deficits.

2) Nebraska should start by winning more games than they lose. This year offers no other gauge for rebuilding success. From the end of last season to this point, there is very little data, particularly on the positive side. The receiver with the two best receiving yardage games in program history transferred out. A backup QB who followed Frost to UCF, then back to Lincoln, up and transferred to “The Birthplace.”

As a jaded observer, I view any positive news as mere public relations*. Until there is some actual on-field action**, I do not know how to set other goals, much less measure progress towards them..

* Eat Arby’s.
**I am on-record as saying there won’t be any CFB this fall. I stand by it.

pkloa: High point had to have been 2012, when the regular season saw the Huskers at 10-2. On the way to winning the Legends Division, they narrowly defeated Wisconsin in the regular season, and that’s where we should end this little history lesson.

My favorite Nebby low point was 2018. Fortune and lightning cancelled the game against Akron, setting the tables for an 0-6-⚡ start. Somebody took advantage after the Wisconsin loss to make fun of Scott Fr0-5t.

Nebraska still has immense potential. I don’t think the fanbase will put up with being a B1G West also-ran for too long. It’ll take the right coaches recruiting the right players, then the Huskers should get right back to losing in the CCG.

MNW: Who the fuck wrote these questions? This is terrible.

First, the high point has to be that 2012 Legends Division championship, just as the others have said—though I’m sure Jesse will be by to make a case for the 2013 Northwestern game. And the 0-6-⚡ start, as pkloa notes, was amazing...but it was just another in a long line of indignities for me. I’d set the low mark at the second half of the 2017 Heroes Trophy game, where a 14-14 tie turned into a 56-14 rout — the third straight game in which Mike Riley’s Huskers gave up 50+ points, it was the picture of just how far the Huskers had fallen, including in comparisons to their supposed rivals in Iowa. Perhaps Nebraska fans will disagree; they certainly have more claim to know than I do.

That’s part of the reason, though, that I didn’t choose a moment from the Frost Era — the end of 2017 was indicative of just how daunting the rebuild is in Lincoln. Most rational Huskers fans acknowledge this fact, of course, but what confuses me about Frost’s rebuild is that it appears to be (1) “Bring a modern offense in Lincoln,” (2) ???, (3) WIN. Is there a defense? Maybe! Don’t ask questions.

Like, we mock the Blackshirts bit because defense was something Nebraska was legitimately good at, and a tradition easily and visually associated with the Huskers...and then sitting on a 4-2 record last year, Nebraska gives up 30+ in four straight losses and crumples. Bo Pelini’s flaws were myriad, but at least his teams played some defense (Big Ten Championships notwithstanding).

Jesse: I don’t know… Winning a division was fun. That one time we were on gameday and then got murdered was less fun. Getting run out the damn building under Pelini against a Minnesota team determined to not run anything but jet sweep was pretty rough. I hate this question…

Anyhow, I think the identity is offense, but really, Nebraska is trying on defense too. The problem is that these guys are thinking like NFL GMs. Start from the back and work your way to the front. That’s an awesome idea when your minimal viable product along the line is still NFL caliber. In college, that uh… well, that doesn’t work so great. The secondary will be really good this year and I think that makes the d-line look better but if they can’t stop the run, it doesn’t really matter what Frost tries to do. Anyhow, I’m rambling because it’s late but there is no identity and there probably is also no football so WE’RE TOTALLY ON BRAND IN 2020!

Zuzu: Wow, congrats on a decade, Nebraska!

These questions are hard to answer for me because I really don’t pay attention to the middle to lower tier Big Ten West teams... [ed. note: HOLY SHIT, FROM DOWNTOWN]

I’ll plead the 5th on question 1, and for 2 I’ll say, I don’t think Scott Frost is the guy to make Nebraska like a massively relevant and strong force in CFB again, but he can make them good. I echo pkloa in that Nebraska has a lot of potential. It has historical status and is the only sports thing in Nebraska.

Beez: The high point was when they upset Michigan State that year on a questionable call, I wanna say 2015 or 2016 or something, back when beating MSU was a good and impressive thing to do.It’s hard to say what the exact low point is, so I’ll just pick one of the Wisconsin games where Nebby gave up a season’s worth of yards on their way to a crushing defeat.

The rebuild is not going well. Nebraska seems to continue to recruit head-and-shoulders better than the rest of the division, but also seems to have missed the “you win games by winning in the trenches” advice that the rest of CFB—especially consistently top 15 teams—learned a couple decades ago. Plus Frost is making some press conference decisions that make me wonder how much longer he’ll stick around a losing team and program.

Stew: I gotta say I think UNL’s high point was probably all the talk and excitement in the run up to the first football season in the conference. That division title was nice, sure, but how that championship game went...woof. Also, that division wasn’t exactly great that year.

As for the rebuild job that Frost is currently doing, I mean, I don’t know. I thought it would be easier/faster for the golden child to return the once juggernaut into an at least mediocre facsimile. A pair of 4-8 records isn’t inspiring, and while the offense has an identity, and can be fairly potent, the line play, on both sides, is as bad as it’s been at UNL under the previous regime, and largely worse than under Pellllini.

Here’s a list of the coaches that were hired in the same year that Frost was. So far, he seems to be more in line with Kevin Sumlin and Chip Kelly and quite a bit far behind Mario Cristobel, Jeremy Prewitt, and even Herm Edwards. Joe Moorehead was fired at Miss St. with a far better record. Even if you want to compare regionally similar programs, Matt Campbell had Iowa Fucking State at 8 win in year 2, and has only 1 losing season, his first, in the 4 years he’s been there.

WSR: The high point was the 2017 game where Demry Croft ran for 183 yards and 3 TDs and would have been hyped as a preseason Heisman candidate if he was a Nebraska QB. The low point would probably be the B1G Championship game where they prepared to play a division champ and ended up getting some 3rd place schlubs that they totally weren’t prepared for.

Poll

Grade the Scott Frost rebuild to date:

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 12%
    B
    (22 votes)
  • 43%
    C
    (78 votes)
  • 30%
    D
    (54 votes)
  • 12%
    F
    (22 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now

Poll

As a much smarter human bean, I suggest the one thing Scott Frost should do to fix Nebraska football is

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Recruit better
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Do better offense things
    (3 votes)
  • 17%
    Do better defense things
    (30 votes)
  • 15%
    Stop being a press conference asshat
    (27 votes)
  • 29%
    All of the above
    (50 votes)
  • 14%
    Some of the above
    (24 votes)
  • 1%
    None of the above
    (2 votes)
  • 19%
    Holy shit, MNW, you’re really phoning this in, even by your standards
    (33 votes)
170 votes total Vote Now