Cable back in the spotlight

Tom Cable is once again in the spotlight following an ESPN report that he was abusive in relationships with an ex-wife and girlfriend. Coupled with the way the Raiders have been playing, is it possible Al Davis would make a coaching change in mid-season for a second straight year?

Before this season Tom Cable might have been the least-known of all 32 NFL head coaches. Most only knew him as the guy Al Davis didn't seem to know much about when he hired Cable to replace Lane Kiffin four games into the 2008 season.

Cable became a household name, however, when he was alleged to have fractured the jaw of former assistant Randy Hanson during a scuffle at a hotel room during training camp. No charges were ever filed following a lengthy investigation by the Napa DA, and though Hanson seemed certain to file a civil lawsuit against Cable, it appeared most of the coach's big problems were behind.

Then came news Sunday morning on ESPN's Outside The Lines show which quoted an ex-wife of Cable's as saying, among other things, that Cable hit her in the face when they were married. A former girlfriend was also in the show and also accused Cable of being physically abusive with her, also.

Cable denied the allegations in a statement released by his attorney, saying the incident with his former wife was a "slap with an open hand" 20 years ago and that he had apologized to her for it. He also denied the accusations made by his former girlfriend, Marie Lutz.

The Raiders declined to comment but didn't exactly rush to Cable's defense over the latest report, either.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell might be tempted to step in now and suspend Cable over the ESPN report, though that seems highly unlikely given that Cable can say the incident happened 20 years ago when he wasn't even working in the league. Sports Illustrated's Peter King suggested Goodell could force Cable to undergo counseling, given the charges by the two women come on the heels of the incident with Hanson. The real question, though, is what Davis will do.

While it would seem unlikely that the Raiders owner would fire a head coach in mid-season for a second consecutive year, Davis could use the ESPN report as an out if he decided to make a change.

After all, Cable hasn't exactly given himself much support with the way the team has played on the field. Oakland's 24-16 loss to San Diego – the team's 13 straight to the AFC West rival Chargers – wasn't as close as the score showed and dropped the Raiders to 2-6 heading into the bye week.

Ironically, it was during the bye week last year that Davis fired Lane Kiffin and replaced him with Cable.

Cable had the support of the players early in the year but that could be changing as the losses have piled up. Clearly the team is a mess on offense and the defense hasn't improved one bit since Cable took over, either.

And with Davis, the bottom line hasn't ever been about perception. It's wins and losses. The Raiders are 6-14 under Cable with not much hope on the horizon that things are going to change any time soon.

ESPN report or not, that's enough to get him canned in Oakland. It could just be a matter of when.

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