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Oakland Raiders wide receiver Chad Schilens (81) is embraced by coach Tom Cable after scoring a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

TAMPA, Fla. — It took Tom Cable an hour or two to convince Raiders managing general partner Al Davis on Sept. 30 that he was the best man to replace fired coach Lane Kiffin.

Cable has spent the past three months attempting to build a case as to why Davis should remove the interim label and hire Cable permanently not long after today's regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ends.

"We have not talked about it yet," Cable said earlier this week. "I hope we will soon. I definitely hope we will soon."

Oh, they will. Perhaps not on the flight home from Tampa but certainly within a day or two from now. Two people familiar with the situation said Davis has a pretty good idea where he is headed next season and that he intends to begin implementation of his plan within days of the season-ending game.

Deciding whether to make Cable the permanent coach sits atop Davis' to-do list. The matter isn't as simple as it might seem, though.

First off, Davis has to abide by a league rule — the Rooney Rule — that requires a team to interview at least one minority candidate before it hires a coach.

Davis presumably is through thinking Art Shell is a viable candidate after firing him twice within the past 15 years, including after a one-season stint in 2006. Wide receivers coach James Lofton has interviewed for the coaching vacancy on at least two occasions in recent years. Then there's longtime NFL coach Dennis Green, who hasn't worked in the NFL since he was fired by the Arizona Cardinals after the 2006 season.


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Potential non-minority candidates on Oakland's staff include offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, advance scout Paul Hackett, running backs coach Tom Rathman and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Knapp and Ryan have been interviewed by Davis in recent years. Knapp is believed headed to Seattle for a job with the Seahawks. Ryan's contract is up after this season, so his status is uncertain.

Those situations will play out in due time. In the interim, Cable wants it known that he covets, deserves and is ready for the job.

"This is a dream come true for me, and I have invested a great deal in these last few weeks," Cable said.

When asked how soon he would like to hear from Davis, Cable said, without hesitation: "Yesterday."

Raiders players say they don't have a strong feel for what is going to happen once the season ends.

"Right now, I have no idea," middle linebacker Kirk Morrison said. "Our thing is just trying to go out week after week and prove that we're a good football team and (that) we do things right."

Those familiar with the process say Davis is appreciative of Cable's hard work and no-nonsense style.

Cable has shown that he isn't afraid to bench veteran players — wide receiver Ronald Curry, free safety Michael Huff and left offensive tackle Kwame Harris lost starting jobs on Cable's watch.

He also has made a serious attempt to rid the team of the losing mind-set that has permeated the premises for six seasons.

"I thought it was a mouse when I took over," Cable said, "and it really was an elephant."

That makes Cable even more determined to succeed. Changing coaches for the fifth time since the 2003 season would be detrimental, he said.

"Oh, I don't think there's any question," Cable said, "In order for (us) to move forward and be a playoff team next year, which I believe (the Raiders) will be, hopefully, things will go in the right direction that way. It's very important at this point."

Contact Steve Corkran at scorkran@bayareanewsgroup.com.