The Byrd Cage

The Battle of the Boulevard: The Last A-Sun Battle, Part 1

In Game Posts on January 5, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Remember that year, 2006?  I know I do.

What a wonderful year.  Belmont’s first NCAA tournament berth, the first year of the Sign, freshman hi-jinks on the grounds of Lipscomb in the early morning hours, and realizing that they do blast “contemporary Christian” music at 3 a.m. like some sort of communist propaganda being pumped into a communist occupation into that dreadful place.

2.4 miles.  2.4 miles is what separates Good from Evil, happiness from shame, and the “Christian institution with a strong Baptist heritage” and “that weird Church of Christ one”.

We are the closest geographic rival in the NCAA Division 1 sports.  The next being Cincinnati and Xavier, at 4.4 miles.  And we’ve all seen what that kind of distance can do in a rivalry.

(We don’t need fists, we prove it on the court)

What a tremendous claim in a rivalry, being the closest geographically. And what a history it has been between us.  In what will be the 129th installment of the Battle of the Boulevard, Lipscomb leads the series 72-56.  This is an unfortunate fact, but while they may lead in the rivalry, our successes as an institution since joining NCAA lead them like the Star led the Wise-men.

“Why the journalistic bias?”  You may be asking.  The reason is, I hate Lipscomb.  I once lived closer to it than Belmont one year and my soul was sucked out little by little.  It was like living next to Azkaban.

But, in all seriousness, I hate Lipscomb.  I hate the fact it tries to act like us and that it is so much worse than us in every way- except the whole Amy Grant thing every Christmas.  Oh, and they had Tim Tebow speak one time.

I hate Lipscomb’s colors, I hate their grammatically incorrect mascot name, I hate their stupid fans, and their stupid band, and… well.. everything.

Before you start getting all mad, its important to note that I have friends who went or currently go to Lipscomb.  It happens.  And how those very few that have Lipscomb and Belmont stickers on their car don’t have to whip themselves in penance at night boggles my mind.

Lipscomb is Belmont’s arch rival.  And with our victory lap around the Atlantic Sun conference this year, I find myself growing quite sappy at the thought of us not being in the same conference as the Bisons next year.  It actually deeply saddens me.

You see, I went to a small high school.  No football team.  Then I went to Belmont, no football team.  I loved sports, but quickly found many around me just didn’t care.  But Belmont basketball was the thing.  It was OUR thing.  It was a great thing.  Belmont basketball had a profound history.  It had great potential.  It was early Mid-Major magic before my eyes, with the very possibility I was watching a Cinderella.  I fell in love.  And I have always hated her foe.  Lipscomb.  I will always.

But the very thing that makes me love Belmont basketball is Lipscomb, you see?  It’s a strange sort of symbiosis.  It’s the underlying plot theme in every great story ever written, in every great movie, in every great life.  Good and evil.

And, I fear, as we put away our Atlantic Sun warm ups, change the website logo, delete, add, edit, and move on- I feel like we will realize what we left, in a sobering moment.

Alcoholics call it a “moment of clarity”.  The religious call it “divine inspiration”.  Whatever its called, it be will a deep feeling of sadness.

That awful school down the road with which we’ve practically held hands with through the NAIA to the NCAA will not be beside us this time.  Like embattled brothers forced apart, we will realize, only apart, that the very same lifeblood that courses through our veins, courses through theirs.

And we will be gone.

I may hate the crap out of you Lipcomb, but I respect you.

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  1. Well said, Brett. As a die-hard Bruins fan in the pathetic Atlantic Sun Conference, knowing I can count on two games a year that mean something in Nashville, really makes our mostly lame conference schedule go by a little quicker.

    Some awesome signs Ben, Steve, and I made at an away Battle of the Blvd two years ago:

    “Bisons is a malapropism”

    ” ‘Lipscomb’ sounds disgusting . . .”

    “The parking here is terrible”

    “At least Baptists can dance: 2006, 2007, 2008”

    and finally . . .

    “Tim Tebow can’t read” (so ahead of it’s time, I know)

    Another infuriating point regarding this rivalry is that when Lipscomb has the home court – their fans go freakin bonkers. If you remember Coach Byrd’s interview in the City Paper earlier this year, he basically said he hates playing at Lipscomb for that very reason, saying that there are few teams in D1 basketball that would sign up to play in such a tense environment. I believe him. Our loss their last year can be undeniably attributed to their student section’s unwavering insanity.

    We could lock are students down on campus after 10 o’clock to achieve similar results, but I think about a decade more in the NCAA will do the trick – that or making Belmont a wet campus . . .

    Anyway, my key to the game: Ian Clark. Other than the curious increase in turn-over’s this year atttributed namely to the continuous and predictable (albeit mostly successful) jaming of the ball down to Scott and Mick, Ian’s 3-Pt shot has been, atrocious and what I like to think is one of the main reasons we aren’t looking as strong as we should. Last year his 3pt % was raging at .429 and right now its limping in on an average .337. Once his 3 ball starts falling – the whole team’s does. Something has to change with him, and the Battle of Blvd may be the necesary crucible to change this trend for the rest of the season. We’ll likely see big figures from the mismatch at the post position, so maybe this is less of a key to the game and more of a key to the season.

  2. I dressed up as a bear one time at the Battle. Full body suit, head to toe. A little girl came up and hugged me. Creepy though it may seem, it was clear from this symbolic act that the Belmont Bruins had the endorsement of that which is pure and beautiful. By contrast, no one wants to hug a bison. Who tucks in their little child at night with a stuffed bison? A bad parent, that’s who.

  3. “WHEN’S
    YOUR
    CURFEW”

  4. In my opinion this is George Bailey getting a call from his buddy Sam Wainwright about investing in plastic. George didn’t take his advice, married the small-town girl, and always longed for something bigger. And sure, Sam went on to be rich, have bombshell babes all around him, and lived it up in NYC, but as we all remember it was George Bailey, that big fish in the small pond of Bedford Falls, that moved us to tears and gave us something to cheer for.

    In recent March Madness‘ past I have been a proud Belmont fan. Sort of like discovering that indie band that finally makes it big and you get to claim you were a fan back when they released Clarity (Jimmy Eat World). But, no one ever was on board with the nobodies. But we were! Just a bunch of geeky liberal arts nerds and a couple of music business majors faithfully shouting their lungs out for Rick Byrd’s boys. What’s it going to be like when Belmont is no longer the face of a conference, but rather a pretty good mid-major basketball team? One of the hundreds of teams like Eastern Kentucky, SIUE, and Southeaster Missouri State (all OVC schools) that no one gives a damn about? Who will we be without our annoying little brother? Who cares about George Bailey if he sells the Bailey Building and Loan to Mr. Potter and leaves Bedford Falls? Who will cheer for a Belmont without a 60 year narrative. I fear our mediocrity.

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