New Orleans assistant head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt will serve as the interim head coach while Payton serves his season-long suspension in 2012. The problem, though, is Vitt will be suspended for the first six games of the regular season due to the Saints' bounty scandal.
At that point, the Saints appear likely to look toward offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. as the interim for the interim, though nothing has been announced at this point. Earlier this week, I made the argument that Carmichael was the most deserving candidate as Payton's interim head coach in 2012.
The reasoning behind Vitt also makes sense, though it's imperfect due to his suspension and the countless questions that he'll face about the bounty scandal. By tabbing Vitt as the interim head coach, Carmichael can remain focused on his responsibilities with the offense, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can do the same with the defense. Plus, Vitt took on the brunt of the role in 2011 when Payton stepped aside to tend to a broken leg, so he's used to the job.
It was an imperfect decision-making progress to begin with, but the Saints have finally answered their greatest question since the scandal. Yet, with Vitt in place, the questions won't end anytime soon.