Prior to the beginning of the season, the shape of the game was changed, with the length of the playing field reduced to 100-yards, plus two 10-yard end zones. Other rule changes in 1912: the number of downs allowed to advance the ball ten yards was increased from three to four; the value of a touchdown was upped from five to six points; the 20-yard limit on forward passes was abolished; and it became legal to catch touchdown passes in the end zone.
With only three home games scheduled, season athletic tickets sold for $5, an attempt to generate some much-needed revenue to reduce the athletic debt.
Writing about highlights of the season, the unknown author noted that “All hats are off to ‘Jim’ Trickey, a player who exhibited the highest type of loyalty for his Alma Mater when after seven successive seasons of hard buffeting on the gridiron he listened to the pleas of his friends and consented to make a big sacrifice for Old Iowa, when he took the time and energy from heavy school work and outside employment to play through this last season.
“Trickey’s work was easily the feature of the year. He was the strong point in Iowa’s line on the defense and when called upon to carry the ball he repeatedly went through the strong opposing lines on long gains. He demonstrated early in his career his ability to puncture the strongest defense.”
The Iowa Falls native was admired by all. Enrolling at Iowa in 1909, Trickey preached in local churches to help pay his way through college. When he wanted to resign from football his senior year, 1,600 Iowa students signed petitions asking him to return to the team. According to Dick Lamb and Bert McGrane, authors of 75 Years with the Fighting Hawkeyes, “Off the gridiron his kindness and personality were so well recognized that his fellow students elected Jim Trickey president of the senior class by unanimous vote, a majority never before accorded a student in the university.”
Trickey garnered significant post-season honors, being selected an all-western tackle by Patterson of Collier’s and chosen by Walter Camp for the second All-American eleven. Just one year later, though, the Iowa super-star was gone. According to the alumni magazine, “the breaking of an abscess just before an operation was the cause of death, as peritonitis set in.”
When Iowa students heard of Trickey’s death on December 5, 1913, they were universally saddened. Many traveled to Iowa Falls for his funeral and the January 1914 alumni magazine carried a lengthy tribute to the young man who had excelled in everything he did. The announcement of Trickey’s death in the Iowa Falls Citizen, in addition to paying tribute to the man, indicated just how different the country was 80 years ago: Trickey had served as a missionary in the Dakotas for two summers! Iowa was “the West,” a state perceived to be at the edge of civilized America.