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Saints name Vitt interim head coach

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Associated Press
April 13, 2012
— The New Orleans Saints have named Joe Vitt as interim coach, despite the top assistant’s six-game suspension for his role in the club’s bounty system.

The Saints had to find a one-season replacement for head coach Sean Payton, whose season-long suspension in connection with the bounty scandal begins Monday and runs through the next February’s Super Bowl.


New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis said in the release Thursday that Vitt will take over on Monday.


“It is important that we keep Sean Payton’s philosophy front and center during this season,” Loomis said Thursday. “Sean has been the driving force behind the tremendous success our team has enjoyed during the past six years, his leadership will be missed.


“But we need to set a course of action that gives us the best chance to win this season without our head coach. ... 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.”


Vitt, who carries the titles of assistant head coach and linebackers coach, briefly stepped in as interim head coach last season when Payton broke his leg. Vitt also was interim coach with St. Louis in 2005 before joining Payton in his first season with New Orleans in 2006.


Vitt will be able to oversee the offseason training program and training camp, before stepping aside for the first third of the regular season.


The NFL played no role in the decision-making process.


“It’s the Saints’ decision,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, adding the team did not have to get approval from the league to make Vitt the interim coach.


The Saints did not say what their plans will be during Vitt’s six-game suspension.



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