Joel Klatt Credit: Fox Sports

This year marks the first season of the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff, and Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt wants to make sure the bigger postseason tournament doesn’t overshadow the sport’s highly competitive, exciting regular season.

In an appearance on The Sports Media Podcast from Sports Business Journal released Wednesday, Klatt explained why 12 or 14 teams is the proper number for the Playoff to keep the regular season meaningful and limit the circus around the postseason.

“I think that the bigger deal in terms of the structure of the sport is the 12-team playoff, and what it’s going to mean for meaningful games, in particular down the stretch, what it’s going to mean for conference games,” Klatt said.

For one, Klatt wants the Playoff to create value around conference championship games and earning first-round byes. For two, the Big Noon Saturday game analyst wants to keep the attention on those November games in Iowa City or Fayetteville rather than fans turning their attention straight to the postseason, as we see in college basketball.

“As soon as we go to 16 (teams), now the games late in the season don’t really matter. Now we get what a college basketball regular season is, which is, let’s face it, unimportant until we get to March Madness,” Klatt argued. “And I want to try to avoid that in college football because one of the things that’s been unique to college football is the importance of the regular season.”

Klatt suggested a 14-team setup in which only the SEC and Big Ten champions get byes to adjust for the power of those conferences. Klatt also pointed out that giving too many teams byes or ignoring conference championship games too much could create openings for weaker teams who benefit from a lucky schedule within the over-stuffed, realigned conferences.

“I do believe that you have to incentivize the conference championship game,” Klatt added.

Still, Klatt believes in the expanded CFP. He worried that over the past decade, the sport made it too hard for schools to achieve anything when only four teams were rewarded each winter.

“Those values that we get to a singular game, I think that that’s really important. So I like the expansion, I think we needed the expansion because we had limited the definition of success to just a few teams,” he said. “We had, in the last eight to ten years, reduced the definition of success to only the four teams in the College Football Playoff. That was awful for the sport. And the only thing that pulled us out of that … was the transfer portal and NIL, which then allowed teams to get more veteran and more experienced, which translated to newcomers playing for the national championship.”

The bigger CFP should bring new programs into the mix and do a better job of sifting through to the best team. But Klatt is already forecasting some unintended consequences that the CFP committee and broadcast partner ESPN should consider.

[The Sports Media Podcast]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.