CFB '23 - Final Recap

The New Legend of Onions: No. 3 shocks field with unlikely victory while Olsen, Bertolina pick separate events and lose

CFB '23 - Final Recap

Oh My Goss!

No. 3 Shocks Field With Unlikely Victory

Leaders Olsen, Bertolina Pick Separate Events, Both Lose

Just Nine Contestants Survive Full Season

The Homemade Histories Of Dr. C.E. Gregory

The Legend Of Onions

There is a pea green, spiral-bound, 12-page booklet on a shelf in my office.

I don’t know how it got there, or how it came into my possession.

It evokes the mussy self-importance of 1970s geological academia with the physical composition — thick black binding spines, 10-pt Frutiger font — of a 1990s Junior League recipe book. There is a pocky texture to it, and the color is dull, like in a way that they don’t make colors any more.

The cover is autographed by the author in sharpie, and above the signature is ink from a stamp that reads “with the author’s compliments,” posing the question of why someone would autograph work they are attempting to give away for free.

Maybe it was just a nice thing to do. Maybe we’re the self-important ones.

The booklet tells “The Legend of St. Barbara,” who we find out even prior to opening the cover is the patron saint of miners. Internet diligence reveals several other professions that lay a claim to her sanctitude, including “those who work with explosives,” so, Babs had a big and ostensibly fun tent.

Her story is, as one can put it few other ways, very fu****. She was one of the Fourteen “Holy Helpers,” which sounds like a band of overzealous Sunday School children but is in fact a collection of saints, retroactively grouped together for marketing purposes, who were thought to be especially helpful when invoked against the Bubonic Plague in the 14th Century. Barbara’s patronage was against fever, lightning, fire, and “sudden and violent death at work.”

But where our author, somone named Professor C.E. Gregory, picks up with Barbara, as I learned while thumbing through it late Saturday night trying to keep my eyes open and my heart cheering on the hapless Idaho Vandals in the FCS playoffs, is in the 3rd Century in what is now Turkey.

After a “preface” constituting 25% of the entire book that can be summed up as, “mining professors are bitter that the broader world doesn’t acknowledge that mineral development and extraction keeps the world running,” he jumps in to Barbara’s story, an arranged marriage gone wrong.

She refuses to marry due to her newfound adoption of the Christian faith, which was punishable by death at the time.

Her father turns her in to local enforcement and she is jailed. When she continually refuses in prison to renounce her faith, everyone agrees that it’s best if she’s killed. She reportedly “headed to her place of execution in cheerful ecstasy.”

In a convenient act of weather-related justice, her father was immediately thereafter struck by lightning, and himself killed.

I evoke this a full 48 hours after Chelsea Goss paraded into the Onions end zone like a receiver who caught a long pass that bounced off two defenders’ helmets en route, winning our contest on the outcome of the SEC Championship Game.

I evoke it not because it has anything to do with the wild ending and the insult to game theory memorialized in the final weekend of this contest — though I know of two contestants who could have used some protection against “sudden and violent death.”

I evoke it because only while reading it with the game on in the background, two very strange things happened.

I realized that Barbara’s “saint day” was today, December 4th, and I realized, seconds after seeing the Vandals seal an overtime victory, that the inscriber Mr. Gregory, was a professor at the University of Idaho.

Perhaps Barbara’s patronage, via the invocation of one C.E., was invoked on the gridiron.

The Moment of Victory

The story is also evoked because the consistent and dismal word from Camp Goss leading into the final morning was that they, too, required some holy intercession to win over Olsen and Bertolina.

They, too, were being led in cheerful ecstasy toward not only death-by-end-of-contest, but toward a meaningless submission — all No. 1 and No. 2 had to do to ensure Goss didn’t win was take opposite sides of the same wager.

And then, as if some saint-like savior intervened against sudden and violent death…

Here is a moment-by-moment timeline of what occurred.

8:28am PT - Commissioner fires up the HQ laptop and scans the terrain for the final three submissions. No sign of anything yet. Sips coffee. An anticipatory fart escapes.

8:44am PT — No. 1 Olsen shocks the world with an all-in on Georgia -4.5, surprising us both with the amount and the timing, some 16 minutes pre-deadline, though had he not gone all in he exposed himself to getting passed by No. 3 in the event his wager lost and No. 3’s wager won. The move gives a clear and obvious avenue for No. 2 Bertolina to at least box out No. 3 Goss by simply taking the other side of Olsen’s wager, and to pit No. 1 and No. 2 together in a head to head battle for the whole enchilada.

8:49am PT — But Bertolina doesn’t do this. Instead he picks on Toledo -7.5. Was this done out of a sense of honor? Not wanting to take the easy way out? Did Mr. Bertolina not yet see the submission from Olsen that had happened minutes prior? This will remain one of the all-time mysteries of Onions lore.

8:51am PT — Formerly forlorn Goss, camped out in the responses tab dutifully, and live on the line with HQ, screams like a Mimi through the phone and fires all 15k+ on the opposite of Olsen: Alabama +4.5. Now, in order to win, Goss just needs a Miami Ohio cover and an Alabama cover, effectively a two-team parlay to win $2,500.

The rest is history.

Lastly, to those who have chimed in in favor of restricting visibility of the card so that people can’t tailgate or go opposite of others’ wagers, we hear you.

The main reason for making the sheet public is so people can have an independent, unmodifiable ledger that confirms what they've wagered and confirms that the wager has gone through.

In the past, when we have made it private, scores of avaricious rent-seekers have gotten upset each week because they swear they submitted a wager, but they actually didn’t, and they have no way of seeing that their wager didn't go through.

As soon as the sheet would be made public and they wouldn’t see what they think they wagered, they would email various nastygrams to HQ thinking the Commish deleted their submission or was biased against them, or the contest is rigged.

Visibility won out as a priority over preventing last-minute jockeying.

However, this practice will be continually reviewed as we move on to additional competitions. Let’s see what we can cook up with Google Forms Response Validation.

The Year - In Data


We entered the week with 14 of you and ended the competition with 9 of you still remaining.

To those tho died...

(14th) Austin “Born Hard” Bertolina - The provenance borrows from what we believe to be his email address. It also pertains to his valiant efforts in the post-Carl stages of the competition. Austin did, in fact, go hard. What more can be said about his run, or the tragedy of not needing just one result to win the championship (which would have occurred had he faded Olsen) but instead needing two results to occur (Olsen losing Georgia -4.5 and Bertolina winning Toledo -7.5) in order for him to win the competition. Godspeed.

(13th) Jon “Not Pfizer, But” Merck — The second contestant to suggest his own nickname (a disturbing and ballsy trend), Jon is a lover of all things vaccine-related, so we figured why not name him after his preferred drugmaker. He also loves big government, DEI, and the environment - he once literally hugged a tree to keep his neighbors from cutting it down. We hope to have contestants as devoted to Onions as Jon is to his causes.

(12th) “Heir Jordan” Olsen — This nickname would have aged better had Olsen won the competition. But it didn’t. We have to invoke it anyway. Perhaps because he is one of the odds-on favorites to contend in 2024. The man has an Onions War Cabinet. Ironically, he busted out by going against Alabama, the same team that catapulted him into the highest echelon of the standings in the first place when he made his major move in Week 10. RIP in Peace.

(11th) Mike “Ladies and Jenns” Jensen — Ladies and gents, the man who in an alternate universe would’ve finished fourth had Georgia covered… Mike Jensen. But they didn’t cover, leading to an Alabama win, leading to grim death.

(10th) Jon “D’izz-e-ok?" Dziok — So, it’s a bit of a stretch phonetically. But it’s absolutely a germane question to ask, after busting out from 7th place in the final weekend. At least you cracked a T-10.

...And To Those Who Refused To Die

(9th) Tim “The Fabric” Twilliger — Because, Twill, you’re part of the very fabric of this contest. /ducks items being thrown/

(8th) Zach “Baby Z” Melaney — I didn’t want to nickname you after the eponymous comedian’s most self-indulgent Netflix special. But the people need to know that Baby Z is back on the streets ( .

(7th) Brian “Papa Bear” McGuigan — Brian refers to himself as Papa Bear, which is all you need to know about Brian. That, and, he is arguably the biggest college football insider in this competition — and there are some luminaries. Most of us mere mortals can’t even see the tops of the ivory towers that Papa has visibility into. He is sure to be a presence in the contest for time immemorial, even if his proverbial play call each week is “HB Dive” over the right tackle.

(6th) David “Smothered In” Ranscht — No one likes an overdressed salad. But we do like David. Nice bit of work to stay alive all year, and particularly to flex into sixth with a pick on Florida State at a bad number.

(5th) Nancy “HOW WAS THAT NOT A” Fowle — No harm, no foul in Nancy’s slow and steady progression to a debut Top 5 finish. She does not get an award, however, for being the Commissioner’s aunt. That is merely her day job.

(4th) Greg “Back To The” Welch — This is the most under-heralded story, perhaps, of the entire contest, and Greg is the fourth and final nominee for run-of-the-contest award. Greg was in dead last after Week 8, second to last after Week 9, back to dead last after Week 10, and last again in Week 12. And he finishes Top Five! This is why we tell you to hang around, folks. This is also why we tell you to start going all in around Week 12. Three straight wins takes you from 24th to this. Just keep going Back To The Well.

(3rd) Larry “Illegally Detained In” Moscowitz — Given the Vandals story earlier, this should have been something Idaho-related, instead, if I was going to go with the Moscow theme. You made the podium in your debut through a mixture of analysis, devotion and witticisms. Pretty remarkable. And all to think, you were this close to forgetting to submit at all back in Week 6!

(2nd) Jeff “Shittens” Lunsman — This is an unflattering nickname. But it’s also unconscionably unflattering to finish second in a seasonlong wagering contest without knowing the difference between + and - on a spread. One imagines that, when you realized what you had done for the first 12 weeks of the contest while somehow succeeding, you might’ve needed a pair of Shittens.

(1st) - Chelsea “Oh My Goss!” — You read the headline. What else could this nickname be?

Thank you to all who participated.

Stay tuned in the coming days for a new contest update.

See you all next year.

Your Final 2023 CFB Onions Standings