The football season is coming to an end with the NFL playoffs leading up to the Super Bowl.
Would that the political season come to an end. Would that it were a season rather than a never-ending and increasingly annoying process.
It's even worse now than in the past, with super PAC groups that can spend without limits on ads attacking other candidates and with their candidate able to claim no involvement in the ads. This brings lying to a new low.
And we seem gullible enough to be swayed by the attacks and slurs, even though we have a remote and usually mute them after the first time or two. Negative ads work.
Yes, thanks to recent Supreme Court decisions that corporations are persons and money is speech, ad makers have almost unlimited power to saturate us with negativity.
But enough about politics. As Hank Williams Jr. used to sing, "Are you ready for some football?"
First, of course, the NDSU Bison won the Division I Football Championship Subdivision trophy. After winning three playoff games, they stifled previously undefeated Sam Houston State 17-6 in the final game.
It was a true championship, settled on the field, as National Coach of the Year Craig Bohl said, rather than having two teams picked by coaches, sportswriters and computers, as happened in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision game between Alabama and LSU.
In NDSU's subdivision, there is a 20-team playoff. It starts with eight teams in four wild card games, and then the four winners play the four top-ranked teams while the other eight teams play each other, 16 teams paring it down to two finalists.
The Bison got a bye from the wild card round as they were rated No. 2 nationally.
Their final win was as dominating a defensive performance as Alabama's in their finale. Both NDSU and Alabama convincingly shut down option offenses.
In fact, one could argue NDSU had the better defense, as in the semi-finals they beat another option team, Georgia Southern, holding them to seven points and 186 rushing yards, while against Alabama in the regular season, GS scored 21 and ran for over 300. Alabama did win, of course.
Division II has a 24 team playoff, with the top eight ranked teams getting a bye in the first week while 16 teams play and whittle the number down to eight. Then these eight play the top eight, and it goes on from there.
Division III has a 32-team playoff. As in the other two playoff systems, the higher ranked team has the home field. In 2003 the St. John's Johnnies, Minn., won four road games before finally getting a neutral field on which they beat perennial champion Mount Union, Ohio.
Mount Union had won like nine of the 10 previous championships and lost about one game in that span.
Of course the NFL settles it on the field. Imagine if they ranked the teams and then had coaches, sportswriters and computers select two teams for the Super Bowl that would be held 45 days after the end of the regular season.
That's what they are still doing at the top level in college. And look what they got with the Alabama-LSU finale this year. One touchdown scored between them. At least this was an improvement from their regular season game where they managed none.
Thanks in part to this game and its lowest TV ranking ever for a championship, this one-game system will finally change, most sports observers now agree, starting with a four-team playoff in the near future and eventually expanding to eight or even more.
We'll see. This flawed championship system seems as resistant to change as our flawed negative-ad-dominated nomination and election system.
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)