It has been a turbulent month for the Michigan Football program to say the least.
The Wolverines have gone 1-4 over their last five games, with the lone win coming against a one-win Rutgers team in triple-overtime. The losses have not only been painful, they have been historic. Whether it was the 33 year streak that ended in Bloomington, the pummeling by Wisconsin in the Big House, or losing to the only winless team remaining in the Big Ten (Penn State), Michigan has managed to lower the bar week after week. As writers both locally and nationally weigh in, it’s become a daily occurrence to discuss Jim Harbaugh’s job performance and future at the University of Michigan.
While Harbaugh takes a daily beating from the media and fans alike, Ward Manuel, Michigan’s Athletic Director, has remained completely silent. Given the current circumstances in Ann Arbor, his silence hasn’t gone unnoticed.
If Jim Harbaugh were still Michigan’s “man”, you would assume that Manuel would have come out and said so, particularly as the uncertainty surrounding Harbaugh’s future at Michigan has grown considerably over the last month. We are now in the month of December, there are only two games left on the 2020 schedule (assuming Michigan is able to play them), and Harbaugh is still without a contract extension. He is also the only Power Five head coach with less than two years remaining on his deal. The absence of an extension at this point is noteworthy, but the absence of public support from the AD is damning.
I don’t know Warde Manuel personally, but he doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who would allow Jim Harbaugh to take so much heat if he were in a position to defend him. In fact, I believe that Manuel would have already offered his public support of Harbaugh and his intention to bring him back if that’s what both parties actually wanted. The intention to bring Harbaugh back might not satisfy a frustrated fan base, but it would certainly eliminate any questions potential recruits may have about who or what they would be committing to for their college careers if they ultimately choose Michigan.
Of course, I could be completely wrong. Warde Manuel and Jim Harbaugh may very well be hammering out the details of a lucrative contract extension as we speak. At the same time, Manuel’s noticeable silence makes much more sense if Harbaugh’s time in Ann Arbor is indeed coming to an end in just a matter of weeks.
Either way, the clock is ticking.