The New Orleans Saints have officially announced their plans to replace head coach Sean Payton during his season-long suspension. Joe Vitt, the team's assistant head coach, will serve as the interim head coach during the 2012 season, the Saints announced in a press release on Thursday.
Vitt was the acting head coach last season when Payton went down with a knee injury. He was the favorite to land the interim job, so this move doesn't come as a surprise.
GM Mickey Loomis, who is also suspended for half the season, made the announcement.
"But we need to set a course of action that gives us the best chance to win this season without our head coach, and that is why I am announcing today that Joe Vitt will assume Sean's duties. We considered a number of great options to handle Payton's duties both internally and externally, but believe this will provide the most seamless transition for our players and our coaching staff, allowing our offensive and defensive staffs to remain intact with the fewest changes. This is the same structure we used last season during Sean's knee injury."
One of the big obstacles with this move is that Vitt has also been suspended as a result of the bounty scandal. He'll be out the first six games of the regular season with his suspension officially starting after the preseason is over. Loomis said they will have a plan to replace Vitt when that time comes.
"We will work through the offseason under this plan and when we get to training camp we will decide on a course of action for the first six weeks of the season, while Joe Vitt is unavailable. We are fortunate to have a great veteran coaching staff well equipped to handle this challenge."
Among the candidates who could be the interim to the interim is offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.