Washington State has had just one appearance on FSN that has produced significant revenue this season

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A cynic — and there are a good many out there about Washington State football — might say this about the Cougars:

It took nothing less than Notre Dame to drag them onto TV. The Four Horsemen, Touchdown Jesus and George Gipp.

Saturday in San Antonio, the Cougars meet Notre Dame. If that seems a little incongruous, so is the fact WSU is finally getting on television.

At 1-6 in the second year of Paul Wulff’s regime, WSU has hardly been a sexy item for TV. But the Cougars have been more anonymous — more removed from the tube — than any Pac-10 program I can remember, putting more of a financial pinch on a place that can’t really handle it.

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Here’s the tally over seven games:

• Four times, WSU hasn’t been on television of any kind.

• Twice, against Hawaii and Oregon, the Cougars were aired on a limited basis — but of no financial benefit and available only to selected audiences.

• They’ve had only one appearance on FSN (against USC) that resulted in significant revenue.

In terms of television, the Cougars are like H1N1 to the rest of the Pac-10. If you’re playing them, you have a great chance of not being televised. Last week, California saw a three-year, 38-game streak of televised games end when it played WSU.

What’s it mean financially? The Pac-10 has a system of units that isn’t fully determined until the end of the academic year.

In general terms, though, there are participant and nonparticipant shares. Participants get about $600,000 for a national, network game like Notre Dame, or for playing in Saturday evening’s USC-Oregon game.

The number drops to about $300,000 for ESPN or Fox regional appearances.

So in seven games, WSU’s participant share is a mere $300,000. Compare that to Washington, coming off an 0-12 season, but with five regional or national appearances worth about $2.1 million.

By my accounting, WSU’s total take so far, including the nonparticipant shares, is about $1.4 million. Washington’s is about $3 million.

With the Notre Dame windfall of $600,000 in TV money, WSU athletic director Jim Sterk says the Cougars aren’t far off projected revenue of about $2.8 million.

“We budget on a conservative basis,” he said. “We don’t bet on the come. If there are surprises, they’re good surprises.”

For his part, Wulff says the minimal television hasn’t affected a class of committed recruits for 2010 now numbering 16.

“As we win moving forward, which we will do,” he vowed, “the TV opportunities will come.”

And what’s more …

• The Pac-10’s suspension of an official who missed the call when USC’s Taylor Mays pulled the helmet from Oregon State’s James Rodgers last week seems to signal an increased accountability under new commissioner Larry Scott. Meanwhile, Mays, the O’Dea High grad, says he told Rodgers the play was unintentional, and USC coach Pete Carroll says Mays isn’t a dirty player, adding, “When you’re that aggressive and 235 pounds, you’re going to have an impact.”

• WSU has absorbed another injury blow, with sophomore OLB Louis Bland due for exploratory knee surgery to look into problems that began with a torn posterior cruciate ligament. Bland, whom Wulff calls “probably our best player, top to bottom, on defense in the last year and a half,” is likely done for the year.

• How destitute did it become at Arizona after the departure of Dick Tomey? The Wildcats’ No. 23 ranking this week by AP is their first since 2000.

• Oregon is hoping this stat means something Saturday in Eugene against USC: In the Trojans’ previous 10 games at the LA Coliseum, they had allowed 38 points. Oregon State put up 36 on them last week.

• An apparent difference of opinion between UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow will be worth watching. Neuheisel says both Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut will play going forward, while Chow favors Prince.

• Neuheisel admonished Bruins WR Randall Carroll for a tweet to a recruit in which Carroll used a racial slur in reference to Chow and was derogatory of Chow’s handling of UCLA’s young receivers.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

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