Central College News

Featured: Numbers, Football and Diamond Rings

December 17, 2012

Jared Hottle and Andrea Kroeger with President Mark Putnam


For most students, navigating senior year is enough work. Why add a massive paper and presentation to your plate? But for a few bright, hardworking students, the challenge of turning a small research interest into a culminating project is just what their final year at Central needs.

In November, two honors students presented their senior theses. Several more will do so in April.


Using Past and Current Data as Predictors of Professional Success in Quarterbacks

Thesis Advisor: Brian Peterson

Second Reader: Jessica Schuring

Jared Hottle was a student assistant on the coaching staff for the football team this year, and he must have put his brain to work. The economics and political science major is clearly a numbers guy, and he spent his last semester of college immersing himself is football statistics—both college and professional.

Hottle’s first goal was to figure out if collegiate statistics could predict whether a quarterback would be successful in the NFL. He found that no collegiate stats could explain professional success. Then, he undertook to learn if professional success was correlated with pay.

Using complex statistical models that took into account many factors—such as wage, fourth quarter comebacks, touchdowns, completions, interceptions, and age—Hottle came up with a few surprising results. First, he found that the more interceptions a quarterback had, the more he was paid. The inverse was also true; the more completions a quarterback threw, the less money he made. Hottle attributed this to the fact that management rewards risk-taking.

Some of Hottle’s findings were not as unexpected: more touchdowns meant higher pay, as did more wins.

Using his prediction model, Hottle was able to compare efficiencies between quarterbacks and see which teams were getting the most for their money. Maybe Brad Pitt will be playing him in the next football-themed “Moneyball” movie.

Watch Hottle’s presentation. 

Read Hottle’s thesis.


Marriage Ideals, Parental Marital Status, and Urbanicity: Exploring the Relationships with Regression and Mediational Models

Thesis Advisor: Randall Renstrom

Second Reader: Dawn Reece

Andrea Kroeger first became interested in marriage age when she learned about an odd phenomenon at Central: “the ring by spring.” It’s the tradition of students getting engaged by the spring of their senior year and marrying within 1-2 years of graduation. Although it’s not a majority of students by any means, there is a perception on campus that up to 70 percent of students are engaged by graduation.

The psychology major began wondering how attitudes about the ideal marriage age differed based on geography, parents’ marital status, religious beliefs and political affiliation. So she designed a survey to answer these questions.

First, she did background research on the facts. She found that the current marriage age in the U.S. is 29 for males and 27 for females. In 1970, it was 23 for males and 21 for females. Clearly, norms have been changing. Kroeger was certain those norms would be different based on cultural factors, as well.

Kroeger’ s main question was simple: At what age would you ideally like to get married? Then she asked survey respondents how religious they were, how liberal or conservative they were and what their parents’  marital status was. She asked them to agree or disagree with 12 traditional statements. And then she asked for their zip codes.

This is what she found. People in urban environments have an ideal marriage age one and a half years later than those living in rural areas. She also found that religiosity mediated the relationship. Basically, a rural person who is more religious wants to get married earlier. The same thing was true for those who were more conservative or more traditional.

“Environment plays a humongous role when someone wants to get married,” says Kroeger. “As well as if your parents are married, if you go to church and where you live.”

Because of Central’s demographics, the “ring by spring” tradition makes sense, but the bridge may see fewer proposals if the national marriage age keeps rising.

Watch Kroeger’s presentation.

Read Kroeger’s thesis.