Former University of Colorado Record-Setting Quarterback Cashed in Investment Banking Career for Broadcast Booth
LOS ANGELES – Most people can recall, with vivid clarity, exactly where they were during pivotal moments in their lives. But if you’re FOX Sports lead college football analyst Joel Klatt, you also know where your boss was when your big break came, though supporting details are a little foggier.
Klatt is somewhat certain he was calling a K-State/Texas Tech football game for FOX Sports Southwest in 2009 when his big break came. Watching from California was FOX Sports President and Executive Producer Eric Shanks, who was impressed by the former University of Colorado quarterback’s musings.
A little leeway may be in order, though, as Klatt was not even aware until much later that he was “discovered” during the game. However, he is grateful his utterances caught the eye and ear of the network boss, ultimately laying the foundation for an increasingly higher-profile role for the color commentator.
“When FOX Sports began searching for new analysts for our college football package, Joel immediately caught my eye with a unique comment about the mentality of a kick returner that I had never heard before,” Shanks recalled. “He was incredibly insightful and talented, so we moved him over to call national games almost immediately.”
Klatt’s first selection of college football games came on the heels of his stint as a studio host for the regional sports network in 2007-‘08. However, prior to broadcasting, Klatt’s profession could not have been farther from the booth or even the football field.
While Klatt, who worked in investment banking out of college, has accumulated a wealth of broadcasting experience over the last decade, including as a host on Denver sports radio for years, he confesses his voice wasn’t always so easy to find. Fortunately, his time on the radio helped him hone communication skills he thought he lacked.
“Communication and language were never strengths for me,” Klatt admitted. “I had to work very hard to improve on those. One of my big breaks was getting a local, daily radio show and having to communicate for three consecutive hours every single day. That made me a much better broadcaster. Without that, I would not be where I am.”
According to Shanks’ assessment and Klatt’s quick progression to lead college football analyst, it’s hard to fathom the former signal caller ever considered himself lacking in the communication department.
“Joel lives up to the big moments,” Shanks said. “Those moments are the ones that define people, and you can’t replicate them. Joel has lived up to every single one of them.”
As one of college football’s leading voices, Klatt spends a considerable amount of time studying the strengths of successful leaders. He naturally gravitates to those on the athletic field, pointing to his former Colorado head coach, Gary Barnett, as the one he most tries to emulate. Klatt’s quest to learn is evident with one glimpse at the bookshelf in his Newport Beach, Calif., home.
“I enjoy being around leaders and head coaches in college football because there is such a variety of effective leaders,” Klatt said. “Coach Barnett, by far, had the biggest effect on me. I also love Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.’ Jim Collins, who wrote the ‘Good to Great’ series, was also a big influence on me. I enjoy books on leadership and philosophy, particularly when they are intertwined.”
One look at the Colorado record book and it is apparent Klatt soaked up everything he could from those role models. He embarked on his collegiate career after a post-high school journey into professional baseball, walking on at Colorado in 2002 and going on to set 44 school as the starter from 2003-’05.
“I loved the University of Colorado since I was a small child, so playing there was a dream come true,” the Denver native reflected. “The first game I ever saw in person was at Colorado in 1985 or 1986 with my dad. We saw them play Oklahoma when Brian Bosworth was the linebacker and Barry Switzer the head coach.”
While that childhood memory resonates in Klatt’s mind, he is busy making new memories with his trio of sons. Klatt and his wife, Sara, have a six-year-old, four-year-old and a one-year-old.
“My wife is an unbelievable mom,” Klatt said. “I get to go home in the evenings, wrestle and play dodgeball with them, which is our favorite thing right now. It’s a crazy life and schedule, but I follow a standard routine and structure every day that keeps me on track and ensures I have time for my family. It allows me to be there and to be present when I am there.”
That “structure” Klatt speaks of permeates every facet of his life, from his fitness regimen to his work schedule, family life and even his meals.
“I am incredibly process-oriented,” Klatt stated. “That’s why I gravitated toward math and real estate development and its equity side — because it tends to be equation-based and process-oriented. It helps me immensely, particularly during the football season, that I have that structured, linear side. I even eat the same things on a daily basis, simply because I don’t love change.”
Klatt is firmly on the record, though, as advocating for an earth-shaking, significant change in the college football world.
“What I am most fascinated by, outside the games themselves, is the structure of college football,” he explained. “I think it is broken, and I enjoy nothing more than thinking of ways to fix it.”
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