You can’t see it, but the start of this column was actually delayed several minutes due to an inability to type with my hands stuck in a classic “what are we even doing here?” pose.

These are the risks inherent in the task of determining how Jim Harbaugh’s mind works. And for that matter, how the NCAA works.

Put the pair together?

Now you’re doing the same thing with your hands.

With the heat already on him heading into the season, Harbaugh is under investigation for another set of misdeeds. This time the NCAA is looking into whether Michigan created what would amount to an elaborate spying scheme to steal signs from opponents before actually playing them.

There are so many questions.

One of them: Is Harbaugh borrowing his moves from Richard Nixon, or George Costanza?

What’s your deal, man?

Michigan’s schedule this season has been so ridiculously weak that the need for any additional edge strains credulity. The Wolverines were going to be unbeaten if they played their first 7 games blindfolded.

Yet they are accused of doing quite the opposite of blindfolding themselves.

The NCAA investigation will determine whether Michigan was sending advance scouts to the game of future opponents with the intent of learning their sideline signals when sending in a play. Two of Michigan’s 2023 opponents told Yahoo! Sports that the Wolverines knew their play calls, so these accusations aren’t coming out of the blue.

On the surface, this situation evokes the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal from the 2017 and 2018 Major League Baseball seasons.

Sign-stealing is part of the game … if you do it the honest way. But the Astros did their sign stealing via electronics and trash cans, which is verboten.

The same principle is in play here.

Steal signs naturally over the course of a game? All’s fair.

But steal them using electronics? Or via in-person scouting of an opponent, which the NCAA banned in 1994?

Then we’ve got issues.

Which brings us to the first “why?” of this matter.

Sure, the Astros won a World Series with their subterfuge. But they hardly got away with it. There was a price to be paid for those who masterminded the operation. It’s hardly the type of scheme worth emulating.

The other analogy for Michigan’s alleged actions goes well outside the realm of sports.

The 1972 presidential election is 1 of the few true landslides in American history. Richard Nixon beat George McGovern like, well, Michigan has beaten most of its opponents this season. McGovern won Massachusetts and Washington, DC. That’s it.

Yet Nixon wouldn’t even reach the end of the term that he won so resoundingly. Because Richard Nixon was a hyper-paranoid, ultra-competitive weirdo.

Nixon’s cronies burglarized the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate Hotel because he was that worried about losing. Even though the scoreboard proved there was zero chance of that happening.

That crime, and more importantly the cover-up to deny any connection to the White House, ultimately led to his resignation.

On the surface, Harbaugh sure looks a lot like Nixon here. Ultra-competitive, hyper-paranoid weirdo unnecessarily cheating when victory is already in the bag.

The similarity goes all the way to what appears to be Harbaugh’s defense — if it happened, the guy in charge totally didn’t know anything about it.

Denial was Nixon’s playbook until the evidence finally turned up to force him out of office. And in this case, denial is just as unbelievable. If Michigan is actually guilty of doing this, it is completely implausible that staffers would cook up an elaborate NCAA violation when the heat is already coming down around their boss.

The summer of Jim

But maybe Harbaugh isn’t actually emulating Nixon here. There’s also the possibility Harbaugh is pulling a George Costanza.

In Season 8 of Seinfeld, George was working as the Yankees traveling secretary when he gets word of the Mets wanting to hire him as their head scout — but only if he’s fired from his role with the Yankees.

So he pulled off a variety of stunts meant to enrage Yankees owner (and former Woody Hayes grad assistant) George Steinbrenner — getting food stains on Babe Ruth’s jersey, dragging a World Series trophy behind his car in the parking lot, etc.

Harbaugh certainly isn’t trying to get fired, but he seems to be at comparable don’t give a … hoot levels as Costanza.

It’s no secret that Harbaugh has a contentious relationship with Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel.

Is Harbaugh — either consciously or subconsciously — daring Manuel to punish him beyond the 3-game suspension he served to begin this season? Or exasperating Manuel to the point that he walks away and leaves Michigan and Harbaugh to their own devices?

Or is it the NCAA itself that Harbaugh is attempting to needle here?

Every violation he has been accused of is of the mundane and/or arcane variety. A perfect way to show the organization is heavy-handed and out of touch, if that’s the type of thing you’re attempting to prove.

What’s the end game?

This could be, and should be, Michigan’s finest season since 1997 — if not well before then. But the focus keeps returning to Harbaugh’s alleged wrongdoings rather than what’s happening on the field.

For a guy who runs away from postgame interviews so his players can get the face time, that must be incredibly irritating. Harbaugh would love for the conversation to be about anything other than Jim Harbaugh, yet here we are.

A week ago, there were reports that a contract extension for Harbaugh at Michigan was on its way “sooner than later.”

This would seem to put that in flux unless Michigan really wants to thumb its nose at the NCAA.

As has been the case the past 2 offseasons, it’s difficult to read into this without seeing the arrows pointing Harbaugh to the NFL.

He obviously knew what he had coming back to Michigan in 2022 and ’23. Championship-caliber talent. And based on what we’ve seen from the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos this year, Harbaugh was well-served not ditching the Wolverines for those messes.

This offseason is different.

Michigan won’t be as loaded next year. And better NFL opportunities could await. The Chargers, for example, stand out as a team with talent but somewhat clueless coaching.

There are no NCAA-induced headaches in the NFL. And this situation is unfolding in such a way that Harbaugh can claim they forced his hand. Because in some regard, they are.

But Harbaugh’s actions, whether intentionally or not, have a lot to do with creating that reality.