METAIRIE — With one week to go before interim coach Joe Vitt begins serving a six-game suspension for his role in the bounty scandal, the Saints on Wednesday chose offensive line/running game coach Aaron Kromer to lead the team while Vitt is away.
Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis announced in a news release that the 45-year-old Kromer, who has been with the Saints since 2008, will take over on Sept. 3 — just six days before the regular-season opener against the Washington Redskins.
A 22-year coaching veteran, Kromer has split that time evenly, with 11 seasons on the college level before getting his first NFL job with the Oakland Raiders in 2001.
He coached with the Raiders (2001-04) and Tampa Bay Bucs (2005-07) before joining Sean Payton’s staff in 2008.
A former offensive lineman at Miami (Ohio), Kromer started his coaching career there in 1990 and left after the 1998 season. He and Payton worked on the same staff at Miami in 1994 and ’95.
A native of Sandusky, Ohio, Kromer was believed to be one of the more likely candidates to replace Vitt, who took over from Payton when he began a season-long suspension on April 16 for misleading NFL investigators looking into a pay-for-performance scheme.
Other candidates included offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., who will call the plays while Payton is out, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who joined the team in January.
“This was a difficult decision because we have several coaches on our staff that would do a great job in this role,” Loomis said in the news release.
Loomis said he consulted with Vitt as well as other members of the organization before deciding on Kromer.
“Ultimately, I wanted to have the least amount of change with both the offensive and defensive staffs, and maintain the most continuity with the program that has been in place for the last six years,” Loomis said.
“I appreciate the confidence Mr. (Tom) Benson and Mickey have in me to handle this duty while coach Vitt and coach Payton are not with us,” Kromer said. “Coach Payton has laid a successful foundation here, and our jobs are to make sure we keep moving in that direction.”