- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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We still don’t know who will be coaching the New Orleans Saints next season, but we know who won’t.
Bill Parcells has informed the Saints he prefers to remain retired, Chris Mortensen reported Tuesday morning.
Coach Sean Payton, who begins a season-long suspension Monday, had given indications he wanted his mentor to come out of retirement and take over the team. That apparently isn’t going to happen and there don’t appear to be any other outside candidates.
I liked the idea of Parcells pinch-hitting for Payton. They have a lot of similarities and I think the arrangement could have worked nicely. But Parcells is 71, hasn’t coached since the 2006 season with Dallas and apparently isn’t up for a return.
This isn’t the end of the world for the Saints. Mortensen reports there are growing indications assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt will take over as the interim head coach.
But there’s one problem with that. In a perfect world, the Saints automatically would have made Vitt the head coach because he’s been Payton’s right-hand man since 2006. But the Saints are living in a far-from-perfect world these days as they deal with the NFL discipline for their bounty program. Vitt also is tied up in this mess.
Vitt will be suspended for the first six games of the regular season. But his suspension does not begin until the start of the regular season. That’s great for the short term.
Vitt can run the offseason program and can guide the Saints through training camp and the preseason. That means it’s business as usual right up until the start of the regular season.
But what happens then? If Vitt indeed is named the interim head coach, do the Saints name an interim interim coach for the first six games of the season?
That seems to be the most likely scenario.
The candidates for that role would be offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. If one of them is taking over only while Vitt is out, I think it might make some sense to put Kromer in a supervisor role. That would allow Spagnulo, who is new to the Saints, to focus on the defense. It also would allow Carmichael to focus only on a complex offense.
It’s not going to be a normal season for the Saints. But, putting Vitt in the top role for the short term and back in it as soon as his suspension is over, might be the best way to keep things as close to Payton’s way as possible.