As the rivalry nears its seventh decade of competition, Lipscomb has taken to controversial measures to ensure its place of prominence alongside Belmont on the Boulevard with the hiring of longtime Belmont assistant and former Belmont point guard Casey Alexander as the new head coach, as well as former star Bruin Steve Drabyn and fellow Byrd assistant Roger Idstrom to the Bison coaching staff.
“Although it was a controversial move within the somewhat closed-off Lipscomb community, I really believe the hiring of Alexander will really give Lipscomb a chance to compete with Belmont again,” McKeegan said. “Alexander might finally end Belmont’s winning streak by emulating the coaching style of Byrd himself.”
Despite rumors that the University of Tennessee and several other programs over the past half-decade have tried to lure Byrd away from Belmont, he looks to be at Belmont for the long haul, setting up a series of Battles between Byrd and Alexander, mentor and mentee.
“I think his reputation is accurate,” Alexander said. “He’s a really good coach, but I also think he works really hard to make sure his guys enjoy playing. And that was the case for me.”
After the Bruins prevailed again for their series-record 10th and 11th consecutive victories in the 2016 Battle of the Boulevard meetings, the Bisons finally ended the streak in 2017 with a pair of wins as Lipscomb showed signs of life in the series for the first time since Hodzic and Lipscomb-lifer Josh Slater suited up in the Purple and Gold in the late 2000s.
“The rivalry is like no other,” Alexander said. “Those games have so much more significance, no matter what you wanted to say about it. You couldn’t mistake the excitement in town.”
Lipscomb still leads the all-time series 73-67 heading into the 2017 season, but the gap is closing as Belmont currently sports a series-record 11-game winning streak.
“If you’re somebody who’s from Nashville for any length of time and if you say the Music City Miracle, everybody knows what you are talking about,” Hutcheson said. “Now, if you say the Battle of the Boulevard, people know what that means: Lipscomb vs Belmont.”
All stats and figures were gathered from the sports data archives at Belmont and Lipscomb Universities or through independent research.