What a fascinating topic---the four super-conferences of the "haves"! The conspiracy theories may have dimensions of actual truth. The four super-conferences idea may not be an after-the-fact reflection, but a wishful resurrection after some hardcore derailment or perceived, temporary setbacks.
The though is not on a particular blog script or Internet article, but the heard, very unconfirmed, and speculative scenario goes something like this.......
The idea of four super-conferences was embraced by certain big conferences & networks, particularly ESPN, for some time prior to any expansion developments.
The B1G, SEC, PAC12, and the Big12 would be the core.
The SEC, not the ACC, made the pre-emptive move in expanding to 14.
The SEC and Big 12 wanted to establish the "Champions Bowl" to match the Rose bowl in line with the concept of matches among the big 4.
The Big 12 needed to expand with quality additions. Landing Florida State would be the key. Deplete much of the ACC by also taking Clemson, GT, and VPI. VPI would be most tough or impossible to acquire, so settle with Louisville instead, and worry about VPI if/when a 16 team conference later emerges. VPI and Miami (FL) would ultimately be #15 & #16 for the B12.
So the Big 12 adds FSU, Clemson, GT, and Louisville and reaches 14, which in comparison to the SEC, would make the Champions Bowl look awesome.
Notre Dame in talking with B12 elements, particularly from Texas, gave secret indications to the B12 they would not want to be left out of any super-conference concept, and gave vibes they would consider B12 membership intitially as a non-fb member. This was all part of keeping the B12 from acting further, and it worked.
The B1G and PAC12 were following their solidarity track by pursing their "coop" intiative with inter-conference, regular season play.
The PAC12 did not like expansion options for themselves, particularly with B12 schools off the table. Ultimately, there could be an exchange. The B12 sends ISU, Kansas & KSU to the PAC12, as the B12 expands further eastward with perhaps more desired ACC remnants such as Pitt.
The ACC was alarmed at the 4-super conferences idea having legs, and movement per the Champions Bowl, and went into full speed with the Orange Bowl arrangement, and embracing the now agreement with Notre Dame. This throws a wrench into the 4 super-conference concept and gives Notre Dame a new home for bb & other olympic sports, retains ND fb independence, a clear option if ND has to commit to fb, and direct access to a major bowl.
Had the ACC become vulnerable, it would be picking grounds for 3 of the 4 super-conferences. FSU, Clemson, GT, Miami, VPI, and Louisivlle from the BE would be B12 members. The SEC would find #15 & #16 with UNC and NCSU to get the turf and break the ACC fundamental bond. The B1G moves and takes Notre Dame, Maryland, Virginia, and Rutgers.
The "coop" inter-conference exchange between the PAC12 and the B1G fell through, mainly from USC and with Stanford, citing the rivalry with ND. Yet, B1G schools also were playing ND, and the conferences knew games with ND were a factor before the concept was pursued.
ND was viewed as a player in all the super-conference discussions, played their hand perfectly, got what they wanted (remain independent), and put a damper on the 4-super conferences idea/pursuit.
Perhaps in a country club lounge, maybe the powers did discuss some of the above, and had some form of an action plan that, for now, has fallen short due to too many variables and the lack of comprehensive control. Try again later or pursue increments to reach the objective?