Saints likely to turn to Spagnuolo

A team official told Len Pasquarelli that, in Sean Payton's absence, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will likely be the New Orleans Saints' head coach this season.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire?

That could well be the searing trail about to be unwittingly undertaken by New Orleans defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

There was no immediate reaction or statement from the Saints in the wake of the NFL announcement of punitive actions against the club for the "bountygate" scandal.

But an upper-level management official from the Saints told The Sports Xchange on Wednesday afternoon, just minutes after commissioner Roger Goodell brought down the hammer on the club in a series of moves that includes a one-year suspension for coach Sean Payton, that Spagnuolo is the "likely choice" as interim head coach.

Spagnuolo, 52, was hired by the Saints nine weeks ago to succeed Greg Williams as defensive coordinator, after having been fired in St. Louis, where he was the coach for the past three seasons. Williams, of course, was regarded as the instigator for the bounty system, and was suspended indefinitely by the league. He had departed to become the Rams' defensive coordinator before the bountygate story surfaced.

"(Spagnuolo) is probably the guy," the source said, but added that offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael is also a possibility. "We'll see."

With the departure of Williams, and the six-game suspension of linebackers coach Joe Vitt for six games, Spagnuolo is the lone coach on the New Orleans staff with previous head coach experience. In his three seasons with the Rams, Spagnuolo compiled a 10-38 record, tied for the worst winning percentage in modern league history with a man who coached at least 40 games.

Carmichael is a reticent man who, before this offseason, had never interviewed for a head coach post. While Payton has been the main man begin the Saints' prolific offense, and called most of the plays, Carmichael did take over some play-calling chores in 2011 when the head coach was injured.

One Saints offensive player, who spoke briefly on Wednesday and allowed that he was still "digesting" the penalties, emphasized that Carmichael was more than just a titular coordinator. But the player allowed that he felt Spagnuolo will be chosen as the interim head coach.

Offensive line/running games coach Aaron Kromer has also interviewed for head coach positions in the past, but it is believed he will be a long-shot at best to serve as interim coach.

Late in the afternoon, a New Orleans official suggested the club might employ a head coach-by-committee approach, but said that is unlikely.

Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.

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