doug edert
Robert Goddin | USA TODAY Sports

The clock has not only struck midnight. It has sped ahead to 3 a.m.

The miracle at Saint Peter’s was just that. Nothing will ever diminish the Peacocks’ magical run to the Elite Eight. But the on-court limits to the greatest Cinderella run in NCAA Tournament history have been made quite clear.

Shaheen Holloway was basically the Seton Hall coach before the handshake line with North Carolina ended. The school has already missed on hiring Brandin Knight away from Rutgers. The program is not going to get invited to the Atlantic-10, much less the Big East. Rick Pitino is still at Iona.

And now a trio of key players — mustached folk hero Doug Edert, Daryl Banks and Matthew Lee — have entered the NCAA transfer portal. If KC Ndefo plays a final collegiate season, you also have to figure it will be elsewhere.

The Peacocks have gone from America’s Team to middle of the pack in the MAAC in the blink of an eye. This was not ground-floor Gonzaga 2.0. And there is nothing wrong with that, of course. This run was the epitome of smiling because it happened rather than crying because it’s over. But it certainly is now.

Also … It will be interesting to see how many, if any, of the Peacocks in the portal end up transferring to Seton Hall.

You always see players follow a coach after a job change. But if Holloway ends up landing players from Saint Peter’s, expect a bit of backlash in some corners. A cynical hindsight reassessment of his introductory press conference could be to consider it a de facto recruiting pitch to another school’s roster. How often do college athletes get to walk into another school’s building, see everything and then get treated like conquering heroes?

The fact Holloway was basically already in South Orange while coaching the Peacocks wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t his fault (Kevin Willard acted like a buffoon on the way to Maryland). But don’t expect as much grace if he starts poaching players from Saint Peter’s.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.