First, it was the tie with Michigan. Then, it was the loss to Stanford.
Now, it's Lou Holtz's sideline decorum.
Two days after Notre Dame's 42-16 romp over Brigham Young, Irish coach Lou Holtz was trying to live down the latest incident in his topsy-turvy season.
Late in the fourth quarter Saturday, Holtz became so incensed over a non-call by an official that he staged a sideline tantrum. He threw his hat, stomped out onto the field and then, after getting hit with a 15-yard penalty, apparently put a headlock on referee Thomas Thamert.
Yesterday, during a conference call to promote the Notre Dame-Navy game Saturday in the Meadowlands, Holtz offered another apology and admitted his mistake. But he stopped short of saying he was embarrassed by the incident.
"Oh, no," he said when asked if he felt embarrassed. "You have to understand. Do I wish I didn't do it? Absolutely. It was a case of showing him where the [BYU player's] arms were around. It was not done in anger."
The 10th-ranked Irish (5-1-1) already were assured of victory when Holtz determined that blitzing linebacker Pete Bercich was held by a BYU player.
"I've been in the game a long time," Holtz said. "I've never gotten a 15-yard penalty since 1970. That's 22 years. I never used profanity on the sidelines. The 15-yard penalty was called because I threw my hat behind the bench, I guess; I wasn't told.
"If I was going to get 15 yards, I was going to have my say. During that time, I asked to see the official. I did not put a headlock on. I put my arm around him and asked if this is legal. . . . I made a mistake."
It is clear that Holtz was upset over the number of calls he disagreed with during the game. When he taped his television show Sunday night, Holtz said he counted nine calls that he took issue with.
This season, Holtz's play-calling has come under question after a 17-17 tie with Michigan at home. And, on Oct. 3, Notre Dame dropped a 33-16 decision to Stanford at Notre Dame Stadium.
That prompted Holtz to promise, at a Friday night pep rally on campus, that Notre Dame never would lose another home game. He since has tried to play down that promise.