Keeping Score

Why the New Orleans Saints Lead the NFL In Confusion

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Joe Vitt, the new interim head coach of the New Orleans Saints, greets linebacker Jonathan Casillas during Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida (Getty Images)

Next up in the New Orleans Saints drama: who will receive the cherished title of interim-interim head coach?

The Saints keep surprising. In a somewhat bizarre move, the team named assistant head coach Joe Vitt its interim coach for next season, to sub in for Sean Payton as Payton sits out the year for failing to stop the team’s bounty program. The issue: Vitt was also suspended – for six games – for his role in the affair. But Vitt’s penalty starts at the beginning of the regular season. So Vitt will be able to lead the Saints through training camp and the preseason. Then, he will step aside for the first six games, and let the interim-interim coach take over. (According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, offensive line coach Aaron Kromer will get that gig).

So if the Saints start 6-0, will this unleash a “coaching controversy,” along the lines of the familiar quarterback controversy? If Vitt returns to a winning team, will the team split into camps on the sidelines: those aligned with Vitt, and those aligned with the interim-interim? Adding another layer of intrigue is the status of Payton. If either the interim-interim or the interim or both are very successful, why should Payton boot either coach upon returning next year? If the Saints somehow raise the Lombardi Trophy, in the Superdome, as Super Bowl champs in February 2013, I’d bet that Sean Payton won’t be doing cartwheels.

Though that’ll be a heck of a night for the interims on Bourbon Street.

(MORE: The Gregg Williams Tape: Why It’s Not Surprising)