The irony is as rich as it is overlooked.

So while we grab the low hanging fruit of the mean and uncaring NCAA narrative, let’s not forget the events of the Covid season — where the seeds of this nonsense were planted.

It was in the summer of 2020, on a conference call of Big Ten coaches, that Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh accused Ohio State coach Ryan Day and his staff of breaking NCAA rules regarding on-field instruction.

The very rules the Michigan staff broke — and Harbaugh allegedly lied to the NCAA to cover up — a year later.

This isn’t about Harbaugh buying hamburgers for recruits, as many are trying to spin it (and run interference for Harbaugh by making it about the bumbling NCAA, and not about what it is).

This is about gaining a competitive advantage. Or trying to.

It’s about breaking NCAA rules that everyone else (allegedly) is following. The No. 1 job for the NCAA police is preventing competitive advantages.

As absurd as it sounds with the advent of NIL and he who has the largest war chest wins,  that doesn’t mean you completely ignore rules that 350-plus members of the association agreed upon.

Everyone agreed to the Covid rules, everyone knew what they were and how they were different from typical preparation. Michigan knew, too.

And Michigan assistant coaches, according to the NCAA, flouted the rules. Then, the big sin: Harbaugh, the NCAA says, lied to cover up the infractions.

Harbaugh says he didn’t recall the events when first speaking with NCAA investigators, but that he was never purposefully dishonest.

Let me explain something: Whenever coaches — or players, or anyone else in any profession staring down the barrel — are caught, the classic response is mental gymnastics.

“Remember” becomes “recall.”

“Lie” becomes “never purposefully dishonest.”

“First speaking” is an inoculation to lying, because you’ve since been more “forthcoming with the events.”

I’m gonna puke.

Remember, we’re talking about Harbaugh — about as much of a no frills, no nonsense coach as there is in all of sports. He doesn’t want excuses, he wants answers.

Imagine some muckety-muck university (or personal) attorney telling Harbaugh, “Don’t say lie, say you were never purposefully dishonest.” Better yet, imagine a Michigan player telling Harbaugh he didn’t lie about skipping class for weeks, he just wasn’t “forthcoming with the events” at the proper time.

So yeah, Harbaugh deserves the 4-game suspension. He probably deserves 6 — if for no other reason than completely shelving who and what he is to protect a couple of assistant coaches who didn’t follow rules and placed his program in the NCAA crosshairs.

I’m sure the coach who declared a decade ago that his Stanford team played with “character and cruelty” — and then brought that mantra to his alma mater — is thrilled to publicly state that he was never “purposefully dishonest.”

Let’s see if he can recover his honesty and dignity Thursday afternoon as the last coach to take to the podium at Big Ten Media Days.

It was 3 years ago nearly to the day that Harbaugh interrupted Day on the coaching conference call and stated that he knew Ohio State was cheating by having an assistant coach working with linebackers days before the official return to play.

Two years later, the NCAA sent a notice of allegations to Michigan, and among the Level II violations: having analysts perform on-field coaching duties during practice, and having coaches watch players work out via Zoom.

The Level I, and more serious, violation was lying to NCAA investigators. Or not being forthcoming with the events at the proper time.

Let’s not be purposefully dishonest. Harbaugh got himself into this mess a year ago when he simply could’ve accepted the punishment and moved forward. But he lied and fought the law.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, the law won.

The NCAA isn’t really a bumbling group of Keystone Cops when it comes to enforcement. Quite the opposite, the NCAA does everything it can to protect the strong (see: the latest hands-off ruling against Tennessee) — as long as they don’t fight the prosecution and lie.

Hey, we all have standards.

Not long after the conference call in 2020, Day was furious, and told his team they’re going to “hang a hundred” on Michigan. The teams never played in 2020 after Michigan claimed it couldn’t field a team because of Covid restrictions.

That was Day’s best team at Ohio State, and Michigan was so inept in 2020 (2-4 record, average margin of defeat 17 points), the Buckeyes may have hit 100.

Ohio State hasn’t beaten Michigan since.

That may be the greatest irony of all. Unless Harbaugh one-ups himself with more word salad this afternoon.