King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Olympic champ Rulon Gardner survives plane crash. The Jack Bauer of the Greco-Roman set. Plus: Ohio State beats Wisconsin.



Salon Staff
February 26, 2007 10:00PM (UTC)

When is Hollywood going to get around to the Rulon Gardner movie?

Gardner, a former Olympic gold- and bronze-medal wrestling champion and sort of the Jack Bauer of the sports world, survived yet another life-threatening incident over the weekend, a plane crash into the icy waters of Good Hope Bay in Utah.

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Gardner and two others who'd been in the small plane had to swim for about an hour in 44-degree water, then survive the night without fire or shelter before they were rescued by a fisherman, the Associated Press reported.

We don't know it yet, but the fisherman is working for Abu Fayed.

Gardner provided one of the best moments of the 2004 Olympics in Athens when, after his bronze-medal win, he tearfully removed his shoes and left them on the mat in the traditional wrestling symbol of retirement. He's most famous for his gold-medal win over Russia's undefeated titan Alexander Karelin in the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, one of the greatest sports upsets of whatever century you want to put 2000 in.

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In between he got stranded in the Wyoming wilderness while snowmobiling in 2002, losing a toe to frostbite, and he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle in Colorado Springs a few months before the Olympics in 2004, escaping with cuts and bruises.

Gardner also -- Oscar bonus! -- has a learning disability.

As they say in the movie biz, the story's perfect. Perfect! We're just going to change it a little. We're going to have him win the bronze first, then have the upset over Karelin serve as the climax, followed by the shoes-on-the-mat thing. Love that.

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And can we make him a woman? And thinner. And instead of Greco-Roman wrestling, how about we make it a singing competition, sort of an "American Idol" thing, but it doesn't have to be that exactly. Instead of Simon the mean judge can be a woman. And thinner.

So instead of beating the Russian guy -- ugh, so "Rocky IV"! -- she beats an unbeatable singer in the finals. A hot one. I'm thinking Beyoncé, mainly for the page views. Then she tearfully leaves her Manolo Blahniks at center stage! I'm loving this! Are you writing it down?

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OK, now why would she do that? She's not going to retire right then. Oh! I've got it! It's a tribute to her beloved older brother, the wrestler, who, in flashback, had given her lots of Clint in "Million Dollar Baby," Burgess Meredith in "Rocky," Mr. Miyagi in "Karate Kid" kind of advice. "You're gonna eat lightnin' and you're gonna crap thunder!" That kinda thing, but a little more delicate maybe.

She's paying tribute because he was killed in a snowmobile accident. He was a wild man, just like Gardner.

But thinner. I'm thinking McConaughey.

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Ohio State wins showdown over Wisconsin [PERMALINK]

A couple of thoughts on Ohio State's 49-48 home victory over Wisconsin Sunday, which was a pretty entertaining game for a regular-season college basketball tilt. The teams held the top two rankings in each poll, the Buckeyes atop the USA Today/ESPN coach's vote, the Badgers leading in that of the Associated Press, with writers voting.

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What do you think would have to have happened to Kammron Taylor of Wisconsin on the final play of the game before the refs called a foul? Do you think decapitation would have sufficed? I don't.

Taylor took an inbounds pass at midcourt, Wisconsin down by one, drove to the right side of the lane guarded by Ron Lewis, then jumped into Lewis and tried about a 12-foot leaner at the buzzer. Lewis, leaping with Taylor, swatted the ball away and fell to the floor.

I think Lewis played terrific, acrobatic defense and did not foul. But I also think he gets called for a foul about eight times out of 10 as long as there are more than a few seconds left in the game. Actually, I think it's 10 times out of 10, but I'm trying to be reasonable.

This game was hyped as the first time Big Ten teams had ever met as the two top-ranked teams in the nation. But that was really just an accident of timing.

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Now, except when they happen in the postseason, 1-vs.-2 matchups are always just an accident of timing, not to mention the whims of whoever's voting in the poll, usually without benefit of having seen more than occasional games of most of the teams they're voting for.

But this one was only No. 1 vs. No. 2 because the polls are released Monday and this game was played Sunday. Wisconsin was coming off a 64-55 loss at Michigan State Wednesday. The average drop for a USA Today/ESPN No. 2 that's lost a game during the week has been about four spots. The average drop for an AP No. 1 that's lost has been about three. So Sunday's game was roughly either a 1-vs.-5 or a 2-vs.-4.

Not quite as sexy, eh?

And speaking of that, was one of your Academy Awards side bets Jennifer Lopez looking dowdier than a woman dressed up as Queen Elizabeth II? Nice bet. Go cash in.

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See how I brought the column around there?

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