Published on December 21st, 2015 | by Alex Thiel0
The End Of An Era: Farewell To The Tad Pad
There was always something, let’s say, quaint about Tad Smith Coliseum to the Ole Miss faithful. Over the years, fans showed up time and time again to see names like Ansu Sesay, Gerald Glass, and Sean Tuohy lead the Rebs against top-tier SEC competition. Names such as Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Rajon Rondo, Pete Maravich, and others have played in that gym.
And certainly, the program’s recent successes left a younger generation with fond memories of the Tad Pad, too; Andy Kennedy‘s Ole Miss squads have been competitive year-in, year-out, and have made the NCAA tournament two of the past three seasons.
But in the arms race of Power Five athletics, “quaint” won’t cut it. Particularly not if you’re trying to lure players out to Oxford, Mississippi to play basketball.
The Pavilion at Ole Miss, slated to open next month for SEC play, promises all the modernity and cosmetic touches that Rebel fans have been denied previously. It’s going to have the largest video scoreboard in college basketball, consisting of four 12×22 screens. It’s going to have a Raising Cane’s and a Steak n’ Shake in it. It’s even got something called a “technology hub,” which doesn’t sound at all reminiscent of our dear old Tad Pad. It’s a total 180-degree shift from BBQ nachos and power outages, and most Rebs welcome the change.
Even the most ardent supporters of the Coliseum’s “vintage” charm must admit that it was time for an upgrade. It was built in 1966, and it looks like it – from the dated lettering around the front of the building, to the obtruding chimney on the dome’s east face, to the infamously leaky roof inside.
But even though the amenities have not always been cutting-edge, Ole Miss typically plays pretty good basketball in their home gym. Andy Kennedy wins in this building about 80% of the time (121-31 since 2006), and he even put a conference tournament banner in the rafters. Even then, attendance has left something to be desired. The hope is that a new arena will bolster ticket sales and re-energize a fan base whose home-court advantage has more to do with the eccentricities of the building than the atmosphere of the fans (sorry y’all, we all know it’s true).
As for the basketball itself? The Rebs will face the aptly-named Troy Trojans on the 22nd, and the Lady Rebs will take on McNeese State and Alabama A&M on the 19th and 29th, respectively. Not the biggest names on the schedule this year, but still: you’ve got a pretty good basketball program here, Rebel fans, and you owe it to the team and yourself to send their home of nearly half a century out in style.
Then, the doors will close on the Tad Pad once and for all and we’ll all walk over to a brand spanking new Pavilion on the other side of the parking lot. The building won’t be renovated, repurposed or retained; current plans call for the razing of Tad Smith Coliseum to make room for more green space on campus. A welcome change, certainly, but things just won’t be the same on that side of campus without that awkward blue beacon looming over the hill, summoning you toward limited parking.