It's clear the Big 12 has big aspirations. It's unclear, however, whether or not they'll be able to fulfill those dreams.
The conference is losing Texas A&M, presumably to the SEC, and they're now looking for a replacement after also losing Nebraska to the Big 10 and Colorado to the Pac-12. Instead of reaching for regional ties like Houston at this stage, Don Beebe and company are setting their sights on some of the most powerful entities in college football, specifically the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Conferences have been reaching for Notre Dame for years, most notably the Big 10, and each has failed to win her hand. Based on the statements coming out of Notre Dame, the Big 12 isn't going to win this time either. Kirk Bohl of the Austin Stateman says that Notre Dame will not join the BIg 12 despite any rumors of potential interest to the contrary.
Swarbrick joked about all the rumors and wild speculation that has arisen out of talks that A&M has had with the SEC as well as that which cropped up last year when Nebraska, Colorado and Utah all joined new leagues. "One thing I can tell you from what I know last year," Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame's AD told him, "almost none of the speculation was accurate."
It's not a bad move for the conference to cover its bases and ask the power players before settling for Plans B or C. But to do so publicly makes a conference that's already shaky look a bit desperate. It's amazing how much of this is being played out in the public eye.