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FILE -- The Oakland Raiders on Tuesday ousted Tom Cable as coach. (Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News)

Tom Cable fulfilled at least one of Al Davis' orders.

"He has to dominate the locker room," Davis said upon introducing Cable as the Raiders coach on Sept. 30, 2008.

Cable developed more players' support than seemingly possible in 2¾ seasons. What will become of that locker room now that the Raiders bid Cable farewell Tuesday night?

As professional athletes, they will be ordered to fall in line behind Cable's successor, whose initials are likely HJ (Hue Jackson, the Raiders' offensive coordinator) instead of JH (Jim Harbaugh, ex-Raiders assistant-turned-Stanford savior).

No, the players aren't going to stage a palace coup over this. They know who runs A.D. Football Inc. But they won't like Cable's departure.

Cable eventually got them to perform well enough for a 6-0 run through the AFC West in this just-completed 8-8 campaign, their first season without at least 11 losses since 2002.

Player displeasure with the Raiders' latest coaching change could cause rifts, scorn, distrust and disbelief. It took Cable three years to rid the locker room of those visible negatives.

Some angry players will angle for their own exit. Some will mope until that first game check arrives.

Quarterback Jason Campbell might endorse the switch more than anyone. He understandably didn't like getting benched in favor of Bruce Gradkowski, that last happening in a pivotal loss to the Miami Dolphins. On Sunday, Campbell dismissed Cable's possible ouster as a "business" decision, but he did voice happiness about working with Jackson.


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"Most definitely we got a better feel for each other," Campbell said after the Raiders concluded their season by beating the Chiefs. "You don't just come in out of the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden light it up. It takes time to get to know each other, to know my strengths and what I can do well and what I need to work on."

Campbell is not a strong enough quarterback to lead the Raiders through yet another time of transition. If he is true leader, he better rally the locker room around Cable's successor.

If the next coach is Jackson -- or even Harbaugh, which would liven up the Bay Area neighborhood -- the Raiders offense may churn along OK. So much else comes with being the Raiders coach, however -- mainly answering to Davis, as well as a disjointed locker room.

The Raiders defense -- at least its front seven -- awoke this season, bullying opponents the way Cable wanted. The resilient, tough-guy spirit trickled throughout the team, a polar opposite to when JaMarcus Russell weighed down the Raiders.

Not surprisingly, offensive linemen raved about Cable, their one-time position coach. So, too, did cornerbacks, defensive tackles and special teamers.

One unforgettable measure of Cable's locker-room popularity: Training camp, 2009. After being accused of punching then-assistant Randy Hanson, Cable walked onto the practice field in Napa amid players' chants of "Cable! Bum-ayae!," a comedic reference to Muhammad Ali lore.

Cable had their support to the very end. But he didn't have it from Davis.

Cable didn't have enough wins, enough successful play calls, and perhaps, in Davis' mind, he didn't always play the right quarterback.

His tenure featured too many losses (27 in 44 games), too many empty seats at the Coliseum, too many things wrong with Russell and too much off-field drama (see: Hanson incident, as well as allegations of abuse by his former wives and girlfriends).

Back on Sept. 30, 2008, Davis said of the Raiders' revolving coaching door: "I do believe that it's good to have one guy for four or five years." Four or five years? That indeed was worth doing with John Madden, Tom Flores, Art Shell (the first episode) and Jon Gruden.

Cable should have lasted that long, too.

"The spirit of the team is of utmost importance," Cable said upon replacing a fired-with-cause Lane Kiffin. "All of these guys, to be professional football players, have been winners. They are winners. They didn't get here because they were secondhand or they couldn't achieve or any of that.

"So you gotta draw that out of 'em. You gotta take 'em back and find that spirit, and then you gotta do it collectively as a team. And that's what we'll plan to do."

That's what Cable did. That's what his successor must do, too.

Contact Cam Inman at cinman@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/CamInman