By Clark Judge, CBS Sports Senior Writer
OAKLAND (CBS Sports) — Oakland’s players are upset with the dismissal of former coach Tom Cable, but Tom Cable shouldn’t be. He’s a free man in a free country, and hallelujah. The next call he gets may be from someone who appreciates what he just accomplished.
Apparently, Raiders owner Al Davis didn’t. He didn’t seem to care that Cable put his team back on the map, delivering their first non-losing season since 2002, going unbeaten in the AFC West and filling the stands at the Oakland Coliseum. Basically, he didn’t seem to care that Tom Cable made the Oakland Raiders matter.
So he cashiered Cable for reasons only Davis knows, and let’s hear it for second chances. Tom Cable will emerge better for the experience, and he should emerge better than the team he left behind. I look at what happened to guys like Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Norv Turner, and Lane Kiffin — coaches who put Oakland in their rear-view mirrors — and see how much better off they are now than they were then and imagine the same can be true for Cable.
Look, I don’t know how good a coach he is. But I know he’s good enough to do what no one since Gruden had, and that’s win enough games to make the Raiders a threat. They manhandled San Diego in San Diego. They hammered Kansas City in Kansas City. They put 59 points on Denver in Denver. They did what they used to do, which was beat up opponents and make the rest of the division shudder.
I attribute that to Cable, and if it gained him so much attention that Al Davis didn’t like it, well, too bad. That happens when you perform miracles.
But Cable did more than just coach the Raiders to victories. He was a major influence in some of the team’s most important personnel moves in the past year. He was the guy who sat down JaMarcus Russell. Smart. He was also the guy who recommended dumping the former first-round pick. Smarter. He played an important role in the 2010 draft, the Raiders’ best in years, and he was involved in the acquisition of quarterback Jason Campbell. In short, he brought a common-sense approach to a team that had little.
“This is a huge letdown,” Oakland punter Shane Lechler told the Oakland Tribune.
Not for Tom Cable it isn’t. This is his chance to move onward and upward. He already made a name for himself by breaking even with a club that lost 83 of its previous 112 starts. I don’t care that he was fired. The Raiders go through coaches like the Gabors go through husbands. As someone close to the situation said, “People will put this in perspective. They’ll say he won where you can’t win because everyone knows how it is there. Up is down with the Raiders, and down is up.”
Or something like that. All I know is that Tom Cable took a bad club and made it whole again. That will help him in his next search, with sources close to Cable saying that several NFL clubs already have contacted the guy. That makes sense. He has proved he can win in a place where you’re not supposed to.
But that’s not all that could make Cable an attractive hire. In an era where head coaches can command salaries of $7 million to $8 million per season, Cable is a relative bargain. He’s in the $2 million to $3 million range, and that could be an issue with owners looking at a potential lockout down the road. Cable not only becomes a coach who can win; he becomes the coach you can afford.
The Raiders did Cable two favors: First, they hired him, allowing him to prove he can handle a job others could not. Second, they fired him, allowing him to take what he did in Oakland and improve on it with an organization that will appreciate it and appreciate him.
Tom Cable is better for this move. The Raiders are not. They start looking for a qualified head coach when they already had one in place.
“It’s going to influence a lot of guys’ decisions on free agency,” Lechler told the Tribune. “You’re going to lose a lot of guys that are great football players, and just because of this move.”
Maybe they’ll follow Tom Cable to his next job. You can only hope. I don’t know what Tom Cable did to merit this dismissal, but I know he shouldn’t complain. Let the party begin.
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