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Jim Harbaugh and Warde Manuel have begun meeting, possible decision timetable revealed

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We’re in the Endgame now.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Illinois Michael Allio-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh and athletic director Warde Manuel said they would meet at the end of the season to hash out the future of the program. The end of the season is here, and the meetings have begun. According to multiple media reports, Harbaugh and Manuel have begun the process of sitting down to discuss a possible contract and what comes next for Michigan.

While the reports are that the meetings have begun Thursday several have reported — including John U. Bacon’s intel from last week — that a three-year contract extension has been on the table with low buyout numbers and large incentives for almost two weeks. Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic says that Michigan is hopeful to have this resolved before January.

If you’re the connecting dots-type, January is when a wide array of NFL jobs could come available. It could be related or it might not be, but these are the things to consider with this situation getting to this point.

Despite the questions surrounding Michigan’s future, they were still able to secure five top-100 commitments in the 2021 recruiting class this week during the early signing period, though lost a few of their top prospects on defense. Those who specialize in reading the recruiting trail tea leaves felt that suggested that changes were coming to the defense, but that everything looked secure at the top overall.

If there’s anything we have learned from this year, it’s that perhaps nothing is as it seems and there is always a plot twist around the corner. It remains to be seen if Michigan is willing to up its offer or if Harbaugh would be happy accepting what’s on the table. Nobody has a read on this situation at the moment.

Coaches typically do not go this long into their contracts without a resolution if they are seen as the people for the job in the eyes of administration. A deal was on the table prior to the pandemic, but it was never finished due to the fallout from COVID-19. Still, everything Michigan is currently going through sans the pandemic is self-inflicted, as we wrote earlier this week.

Harbaugh has a 49-22 record through six seasons on the job with three ten-win seasons (2015, 16, 18), an eight-win season (2017), a nine-win season (2019) and the 2020 campaign, which resulted in victories over Minnesota and Rutgers. Despite a 34-16 record in conference play, Harbaugh is 0-5 against the Ohio State Buckeyes and 3-3 against the Michigan State Spartans and has yet to reach the Big Ten Championship game since arriving in Ann Arbor. For the longest time, we were able to commend his tenure for beating the teams Michigan should beat, though the 2020 season was a sobering crash down to earth in that regard.

We will have to wait and see what happens. We will stop short of drawing conclusions as to what may be going on, but this is a bizarre scenario without much of a sense of urgency.

Harbaugh Watch 2020, which is much different than the one we were in six Decembers ago, rolls along.